Activists seek to curb bird deaths at wind farm
ALTAMONT, California: When it comes to wind power, few places are more productive -- or more deadly to birds -- than this gusty stretch of rolling hills between the San Francisco Bay area and the San Joaquin Valley.

At a time when demand is rising for greener energy sources, the Altamont Pass is a leading producers of wind power in the US, generating enough electricity annually to power 120,000 homes.

Over 5,000 windmills line the hilltops, so migrating birds get chopped up in fast-rotating turbine blades as they fly through or hunt for prey.

1,700 to 4,700 birds are killed each year in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area. Between 880 and 1,300 are federally protected raptors such as burrowing owls, red-tailed hawks and golden eagles, according to the California Energy Commission.

Environmentalists were once reluctant to take on an industry that provides an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.

Bird deaths have prompted wildlife advocates to sue wind farm operators and appeal Alameda County's decisions to renew their operating permits without requiring measures to reduce bird collisions.

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Activists seek to curb bird deaths at wind farm

Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power in the USA.

To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must understand what is happening in Texas. Read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican party conventions, such as:

* homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God
* "any mechanism to process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns" should be repealed
* income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and corporation tax should be abolished
* immigrants should be deterred by electric fences
* Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank
* Arab states should be "pressured" to absorb refugees from Palestine
* Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism

Why is the Middle East of such pressing interest to people of a state seldom celebrated for its fascination with foreign affairs? Because several million people Americans have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion.

Two 19th century immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met.

The first was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.

The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.

What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists? Before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (i.e. those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. The worthy get to sit at the right hand of God and watch their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.

The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means staging confrontations at the old temple site (in 2000, three US Christians were deported for trying to blow up the mosques there), sponsoring Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, demanding ever more US support for Israel, and seeking to provoke a final battle with the Muslim world/Axis of Evil/United Nations/ European Union/France or whoever the legions of the antichrist turn out to be.

The believers are convinced that they will soon be rewarded for their efforts.

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George Monbiot: Their beliefs are bonkers

Fasten your seat belts!

The Rapture Ready website has a Rapture Index, designed to measure the type of activity that could act as a precursor to the rapture.

Discover how close you might be to flying out of your pyjamas by watching the Rapture Index. The higher the number, the faster we're moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture.

The Rapture Index:
The Rapture Index

From rethinking recycling to reconsidering our relationship to trash, the zero-waste movement challenges conventional wisdom

A guaranteed conversation-stopper, the topic--and indeed, the reality--of garbage is not going to go away any time soon. Moreover, there are a number of widely held public assumptions that impede progress toward that elusive goal which garbologists refer to as "zero waste."

Assumption one: Garbage is one of those facts of life that falls in with other inevitabilities like death and taxes. Human beings are a consumptive lot, and the byproducts of all that consumption have to go somewhere.

Assumption two: Garbage companies do us all a great service by whisking away the nasty byproducts of our lives and hauling them off to those big holes in the ground euphemistically referred to as "landfills."

Assumption three: Recycling is enough.

After all, it's good for the bottle, it's good for the can. Well, not exactly.

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Trash Talk

Without any press conferences, grand announcements, or hyperbolic advertising campaigns, the Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of the world's largest publicly owned petroleum companies, has quietly joined the ranks of those who are predicting an impending plateau in non-OPEC oil production.

Their report, The Outlook for Energy: A 2030 View, forecasts a peak in just five years.

In the past, many who expressed such concerns were dismissed as eager catastrophists, peddling the latest Malthusian prophecy of the impending collapse of fossil-fueled civilization. Their reliance on private oil-reserve data that is unverifiable by other analysts, and their use of models that ignore political and economic factors, have led to frequent erroneous pronouncements. They were countered by the extreme optimists, who believed that we would never need to think about such problems and that the markets would take care of everything. Up to now, those who worried about limited petroleum supplies have been at best ignored, and at worst openly ridiculed.

Meanwhile, average consumers have taken their cue from the market, where rising prices have always been followed by falling prices, leading to the assumption that this pattern will continue forever.

In truth, the market price of crude oil is completely decoupled from and independent of production costs, which average about $6 per barrel for non-OPEC producers and $1.50 per barrel for OPEC producers. This situation has nothing to do with a free market, and everything to do with what OPEC believes will be accepted or tolerated by the United States. The completely affordable market price--what consumers pay at the gasoline pump--provides magisterial profits to the owners of the resource and gives no warning of impending shortages.

All the more reason that the public should heed the silent alarm sounded by the ExxonMobil report, which is more credible than other predictions for several reasons. First and foremost is that the source is ExxonMobil.

No oil company, much less one with so much managerial, scientific, and engineering talent, has ever discussed peak oil production before. Given the profound implications of this forecast, it must have been published only after a thorough review.

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Oil: Caveat empty