The probability of earthquakes has changed following new study

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A new report by the U.S. Geological survey has introduced a new earthquake forecast model that changes the forecasts for magnitude, location, and likelihood as compared to the 2007 forecast model. The most significant change is the likelihood of medium (6.7-8) quakes has decreased while the likelihood of large (8+) quakes has increased. Looking at the entirety of California, the chance of a medium earthquake has gone from one every 4.8 years to one every 6.3 years while the chance of large earthquakes has gone from one every 617 years to one every 494 years. 

The evolution of the California earthquake forecast model has happened as we learn more and more about the complex fault system under our feet. 

As we can see the number of faults has increased twenty fold in the last 17 years. In the 1988 forecast, only 16 faults were considered while in 2015 350 faults were considered to create the model. Much of these recent fault finding efforts (pun certainly intended) were driven by the fact that the 1994 Northridge earthquake occurred on a previously unknown fault. There are two other important things that contributed to this revised forecast, the use of space based geology and the observation that earthquakes jump from fault to fault instead of being constrained to the fault that spawned them. Instead of several major fault-lines, the picture that emerges is of a vast interconnected fault system. 

While the implications for building codes depends largely on where exactly structures are located, there are some important general conclusions we can draw. Tall buildings and bridges are more at risk than previously thought whereas small single family houses are less likely to experience catastrophic damage. Also the popular assumption that small quakes release pressure and make large ones less likely has been revisited to take into account the connected multi-fault system. 

How to Prepare

  • Identify safe and dangerous spots in each room. Get under sturdy desks and tables, stay away from windows, fireplaces, and hanging objects.
  • Conduct Practice drills.
  • Decide where and how to reunite with loved ones if separated during an earthquake.
  • Learn how to shut off the water, gas, and electricity.
  • Get a first aid kit and learn CPR and basic first aid.

During the Earthquake

  • If outdoors, find an open area away from walls, buildings, power lines, and trees.
  • If driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop, avoid areas around power lines and stay in the car until the shaking has stopped.
  • If in a crowded public place, do not rush for the doors. Remain calm and cover your head and neck with arms.

After the Earthquake

  • Do not attempt to use the phone unless there is an urgent life threatening emergency.
  • Check for gas and water leaks as well as damaged electrical wiring. Call utility companies if necessary. Do not attempt to re-light the gas pilot without a thorough inspection.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Do not use your vehicle unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Help others in need.

Miscellaneous Electrical Load (MEL)

Miscellaneous Electrical Load (MEL)  in buildings are electric loads resulting from electronic devices not responsible for space heating, cooling, water heating, or lighting. MELs are produced by hard-wired and “plug-in” electrical devices, including home entertainment centers, kitchen electronics such as microwaves and toaster ovens, bath items such as hair dryers and electric hot tubs, and others such as security systems and ceiling fans.

Early generation phone chargers used a lot of electricity and were also a danger if left plugged into the phone. In recent years chargers for phones and other new electronics like laptops have more energy efficient features like an automatic shutoff and sleep mode.

MEL is estimated to contribute 4-12% of the total household energy usage and while many newer electronic devices will come with energy efficient features, things like refrigerators and microwaves are not replaced often so the likelihood of these devices being energy hogs is high.

The other major contributor to MEL are devices that are always connected to the internet. The increasing use of electronics connected to WiFi for example is only going to increase as we move inexorably towards a wireless world. Internet business experts estimate that by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices constantly connected to the internet. Some of the more futuristic things that will be connected to your phone or the computer chip in your brain are coffee makers, pacemakers, cars, and of course cows.

There are a few proposed solutions, some more feasible and long term than others. TheWhole House Switch is somewhat like a circuit breaker for everything in your house. The idea is that when you go out all the electronics can be switched off all at once. This solution requires some pretty serious rewiring that may not even offset the energy saved.

The best solution is a combination of advances in the technology combined with government incentives to upgrades appliances to the latest energy efficient models. For example, new advances in semi-conductor materials means faster and cheaper energy transmission with little environmental loss. When exactly these scientific progressions will be available for the homeowner is still a matter of some debate.

One short term solution is to put timers on the devices that don’t need to be on all night. I have a timer attached to my TV, modem, and cable box that shuts off automatically at night. Timers can be purchased from Tashman Home Center.

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Solar Powered Air Conditioners are Becoming More Elaborate

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Air conditioners can consume an incredible amount of power. Between the electricity the compressor utilizes and the torque of the motor in order to spin the fan, your electric bill can skyrocket over the summer. In order to reduce the cost of this unit, some have installed solar panels onto the roof specific to the sole use of the AC device. However, innovative designs have made development of these units far more elaborate than in previous years.

Mobile Cooling – Many people like the idea of being able to maneuver a cooling device set on wheels in order to maximize the effect in any given room. Developers have created a small unit that can be rolled across the floor while being connected to a solar panel. With some of these smaller units, you can essentially place the panel in the window as long as the sun’s light can reach. These can be incredibly useful if you need a solution that can travel with you from one room to the next.

Ductless Heat Pump Units – Operating at 18,000 BTU, some of these ductless heat pump units can reduce power consumption by nearly 97-percent. Solar panels as well as the mini-split design allows for installation nearly anywhere. Once the sun light is minimal, the heat pump automatically switches to an energy efficient device taking its power from the grid. Although some of these are not 100-percent dependent on solar power or battery backups, the units can still reduce your day-time spending per kilowatt hour.

Hybrid Heating and AC – Some units have been developed to act as both air conditioning and as heaters in order to keep rooms comfortable year round. Although this isn’t necessarily a new idea, the addition of solar power to operate these units decreases your spending regardless of season changes. Some of these miniature HVAC systems can range from small 5,000 BTU devices to more powerful machines producing more than 40,000 BTUs. Depending on your own room requirements, hybrid systems can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter while using less power from the grid.

Central Air – Central air is an efficient method of keeping the home cool in the summer. Solar power adaptations have been created that can operate in a hybrid unit offering cool air as well as heat. Using energy efficient technology and including its own dedicated solar panel, these units are far less costly to maintain than the gird-dedicated counterparts of the past.

Do it Yourself Projects – If you can’t find something that fits your budget or your specific needs, you can always build one yourself. There are many different ways that these units can be assembled – most of them using upcycled parts from various machines. Your own imagination and skills with a soldering iron will play a role in how elaborate you make your own solar AC unit. You may even design something that is marketable to make a few extra dollars.

With each passing year, an innovative method is developed to include solar energy. Air conditioners, outdoor camping showers, ovens, toys, boat engines and more have been adapted to utilize one of the most abundant sources of power humankind has discovered. What was once an expensive addition for the upper class has decreased in cost to the point where nearly everyone can benefit in one form or another from solar energy. Imagine what will be developed tomorrow.

Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in Houston, Texas, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.

Will Water Be a Commodity More Sought After then Gold?

Hollywood has done a decent job keeping us entertained over the years. Futuristic movies have grasped out imagination with tales of how water is scarce and survival after an apocalypse is anything but ideal. However, how much content from those movies are purely imaginative considering the world wide events of today? Will the world’s supply of fresh water become as precious to us as gold and oil?

Glaciers
For the inhabitants near glacier parks, as well as providing fresh water to rivers that span hundreds of miles, the reality of no water is a fact of life. Across the globe, glaciers are melting at an incredible rate pouring greater amounts of water into the oceans. This has, in turn, increased the sea levels at a rapid pace. Within our lifetime, island cities such as the Maldives will be submerged as could be several areas of Florida and other coastal states and cities. In Peru, 1600 years’ worth of ice has melted in less than three decades. How much more will we lose as a species before preventative measures are taken?

Rain Forests
Rain forests are more important than merely providing a habitat for the creatures that live within them. Each year, rains produced within the forests have declined steadily as trees and plant life are removed to provide land for cattle and commodities. Shouldn’t the water produced by these forests be considered a greater commodity than cotton or corn?

United States
In a report completed earlier in 2013 by the Natural Resources Defense Council of Tetra Tech, more than two-thirds of the counties in the US will have reservoirs unable to sustain the population demand by 2050. Changes in the climate and irregular weather patterns will not be able to replenish reservoirs that are in use. An overwhelming amount of the population wants the government to step in and address the problem of water shortages, but very few trust that the government will do anything about the problem.

Wasted Water for Production
Did you know that it takes more than 39,000 gallons of water to produce a new car? If you consider that a single human can consume up to one gallon of water per day, this is enough water to hydrate a person for more than his or her lifetime. Industry exhausts a great deal of water between cooling, lubricating, cleaning and any other use that requires liquid. The more we consume products as a global population, the faster the water is used. The very thing that is keeping economies functional will be a major contributor to its demise if things don’t change.

Toxic Chemical Levels
Many skeptics don’t believe that humans are the cause of climate change due to higher levels of carbon dioxide that is produced through various means. While they focus the quality of air, not many look at the ground. Chemicals that we take for granted are being put into the Earth and poisoning our water supply. Whether this poisoning of the water tables is on accident or not is irrelevant. That fact is that humans are responsible for contaminating water supplies through inappropriate or negligent actions.

At the current rate of decline, it will only be a matter of a few decades before the lack of water can create situations similar to those apocalyptic movies we grew up with. Whether our governments believe in global warming or not shouldn’t be the focus of their attention. Dehydration of the population is a reality and more efforts should be involved to sustain the people of any area.

Author Bio:

Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of  morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

 

Why Iran is lost to the West.

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Sometimes we need to stand back and look at the historical origins of current problems.

In 1953 the CIA and MI6 assassinated the democratically elected president of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh because he intended to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The coup, among other things, was and is a significant reason for regional war and fossil fuels issues. You may recognize the oil company that initiated the coup, it is now known as British Petroleum (BP).

Empire and Nationhood

  • ISBN-10: 0231108192

The sources used by Mary Ann Heiss in Empire and Nationhood are successful in providing credible background for her statements regarding British and American sentiments during the Iranian Oil dispute. The lack of sources from Iran means that it is a largely a two, instead of three sided account of the events. She creates a detailed picture of the negotiations from a western viewpoint using largely the correspondences of Great Britain and the United States while the viewpoint of the Iranians is pieced together from secondary sources and public announcements. The cultural bias of the western representatives is commented on, so although there is a record of Iranian negotiations, they are biased and often indignant descriptions by diplomats.
The overview of the Anglo-Iranian Oil crisis draws on many secondary works and a few books or articles written by people involved or living in Iran at the time. The secondary works are for the most part written by western historians whose titles do not suggest an evenly balanced perspective. For example the official history of the British Petroleum Company is cited a few times and many of the books are primarily concerned with the cold war. Iran was certainly important in the cold war but focusing on it might tend to show the perspectives of those fighting the war rather than that of Iran, which was a chess piece in the games being played between the US and the USSR.
The sources that contribute to the descriptions of the strained relations leading up to the rise of the nationalization movement and the rise of Mossadeq are a mix of British and American correspondences and books concerning the rise of Mossadeq and the political situation in Iran before him. This chapter, “too little too late” shows the greatest balance between eastern and western sources used. The difference is that the sources from the Middle Eastern perspective are written long after the events took place while correspondence on the part of the western diplomats give a more accurate sense of the feeling at the time. Authors whose names indicate Middle Eastern heritage are significant because they are referenced sparingly once Mossadeq is prime minister. This may have something to do with the secrecy Mossadeq afforded himself once in office. Also, the remainder of the book is largely an account of the negotiations between Mossadeq and representatives of England and the US. This means that presently we can look at the negotiations because there is a record of the internal consultations on the western end but we do not know the full extent of the pressure and constraints put on Mossadeq by political entities and public opinion. A dispatch from the state department to someone involved with debating Mossadeq on a key point shows the reasoning behind the American position while the reasoning behind the Iranian posture can only be guessed at.
Another reason for the one sidedness of the documentation is that for the most part, it was a Prime Minister talking to a diplomat who is already biased against the PM. Mossadeq had the power to make concessions so the political motivations behind his actions have to be derived from the situation in Iran. We have such a good record of the western motivations because American and British agents were constantly conferring with each other and their respective governments. It is unlikely that Mossadeq communicated with his advisors in writing and probably kept the details of his situation secret.
An important factor with regard to documentation that is not discussed in the book is the fact the Tehran at this time was chock full of spies. Channels of communication are never one hundred percent secure so information that was considered sensitive would be unlikely to be sent by telegraph for example. The author demonstrates the general fears of the US with regard to soviet interactions in Iran, but the specific threats, real or perceived, are not revealed. The author mentions documents relating to the MI-6 and CIA inspired coup that are withheld but only touches upon why the US thought the USSR would automatically take power in Iran if the economy were to fail. There is certainly logic behind the containment policy in Iran but because there is little mention of popular Iranian sentiment regarding communism aside from the actions of the Tudeh party, the policy seems to stem mainly from American paranoia.
The only primary sources that voice the position of Iran are the Correspondences between his/her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Persian government, and related documents (concerning the oil Industry in Persia, February 1951 to September 1951) (Concerning the joint Anglo-American proposal for a settlement of the oil dispute, August 1952 to October 1952) The problem with these sources is that they were most likely documents that could be made public and were, if it suited a political aim. Most of the negotiations were done without the public knowledge or proposals were made informally at first with the reaction often eliminating the need to present them formally. What we can see in these formal documents are the last ditch efforts by Briton to save face by standing behind proposals they knew would be rejected.
It is clear that the United States was integral in the dispute between the Iranian Government, the AIOC and the British Government but the records taken from the national Archives verses the ones taken from the Public Record Office show that the available American records are more concise and therefore less accurate. The documents from the Public Record Office in England include minutes, memorandums and other immediate sources. These kinds of sources, if unaltered, are likely to be the most accurate and the most revealing. The record of the Secretary of Defense should in contrast be far less revealing and is certainly not cited as frequently as the Foreign Office correspondence. These American sources are not likely to contain information that could be considered inflammatory. That is to say that the United States would not be likely to make information public that could add to the hatred of the US by Iran.
The author does a satisfactory job of filling in the blanks created by the lack of Iranian primary sources. She gives a reasonable assessment of the political situation in Iran based on western perceptions that were probably fairly accurate because of the strategic concerns in Iran. The memoirs of Mossadeq may have helped to explain some of the pressures he faced in Iran but even a person’s memory of their own actions cannot be trusted as fact. While the author does not attempt to analyze individual Iranian sentiment for lack of material, it would seems possible to find a primary source written by an Iranian who was not Mossadeq or the Shah. She does a good job showing the shift from British to American domination of the Iranian oil as well as their reactions to the nationalist movement.

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Review Bibiography

International History Review v. 21 no. 4 (Dec. 1999). Mejcher, Helmut, reviewerhttp://metaquest.bc.edu:4000/sfx_local?sid=HWW:ACIT&genre=article&pid=%3Can%3E199901501686015%3C%2Fan%3E&aulast=Amuzegar&aufirst=Jahangir&issn=0026-3141&title=The+Middle+East+Journal&stitle=Middle+East+J&atitle=Empire+and+nationhood+(Book+Review)&volume=53&issue=1&spage=138&epage=140&date=1999&ssn=winter—There was an error with the Factiva server when I tried to print this review before class but I had read it with the paper.
Diplomatic History v. 23 no. 3 (Summ 1999). Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs, reviewer. http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0145-2096&date=1999&volume=23&issue=3&spage=559

Some Space gifs for fun

 

 

 

 

Cloud computing and the wasteful excesses of data centres

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Cloud computing and the wasteful excesses of data centres

 

With the rapid increase in the use of cloud services and the number of cloud service options available, more data centres have popped up all over the globe, bringing with them a higher demand for electricity. Recent reports by the Energy Conservation Bureau suggest that data centres now consume 3% of all electricity generated in the United States. A September New York Times article, “Power, Pollution and the Internet”, reports that data centres waste large amounts of energy, with only 6 – 12% of energy used by data centres going towards computing.

Data centres often consist of rows of servers, computers whose primary purposes are to process data. The heat generated by these servers can melt crucial computer components, risking data loss. As data centres have grown many now spread rows of servers over hundreds of thousands of square feet and utilize industrial cooling systems to combat overheating. Tens of thousands of data centres now exist to support the heavy demands of internet use, with many of the largest internet companies running servers at full capacity regardless of demand, resulting in the excessive wasting of energy.

There are ways to build more energy-efficient data centres. Providers can consider re-evaluating their redundancy, utilizing storage virtualization, consolidating their servers, and upgrading to energy efficient technology. Some data centres utilize their environment to cool their systems, such as a local waterfall or cold Arctic air. If clients outsource data centre management to high quality facilities that follow these practices, they can avoid forming their own poor management habits. Outsourcing can also save clients from having to upscale and downscale their own equipment to match the changing demands on their business.

Though outsourcing offers advantages, if large data centres are not optimally managed, these industry practices only contribute to more energy consumption. A large data centre is not inherently more energy efficient than a small one, and the spreading of load does not guarantee a reduced need for capacity. It stands to reason the cloud service providers need more spare capacity available to serve their clients than if clients operated their own facilities. Some argue that cloud services help to improve the situation, leading to a consolidation and centralization of computing among large, well-operated data centres. This is not necessarily the case.

Powering the internet is a very environmentally unfriendly prospect. Cloud computing presents a path towards improving the situation, but it is not a solution in and of itself.

 

Mac Connolly has worked in the technology industry for the past 25 years, working for various well-known brands. He is currently working with Melbourne Server Hosting as a freelance writer sharing his experience of technology and the advances within green hosting and data centres.

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