Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nepal's Aid System is Broken So These Lifesavers Hacked It

(This is a terrific article to learn how social media is helping Nepal recover from the recent earthquake. - Lori)
[Wired] The village of Dandagaun is hard to reach on a good day. The access road starts at the Bhote Koshi River, a Class V waterway that drains Himalayan glaciers, then heads more or less straight up for 5,000 feet, past tiny villages and mountain streams. After 10 long miles it curves into a bowl that opens to the northeast. Here sit terraced fields of rice and corn cut into the hillside. Technically speaking, the village, in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district, lies in the Himalayan foothills. But these are foothills in the way that the sun is a medium-size star. The ridgeline above the village rises sharply for a quarter mile. Looking at it requires straining your neck directly up.
In the morning, when light first cuts through the gorge and fills the bowl, Dandagaun is the kind of place that could change an agnostic’s mind. To the south you can see the Bhote Koshi cutting its way through the deep gorge. To the northeast the Himalayas shine like so many white knives. Tibet is 20 miles away. For the mix of 1,400 or so Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians who live here, the presence of the divine is a tactile fact, visible each and every day. Of course there are gods. They live in the peaks just upriver.
Many observers of the April 25, 7.8-magnitude earthquake have noted the devastation’s sporadic nature: One Kathmandu neighborhood is fine, the next a scene from The Road. But there was nothing random about what happened at Dandagaun that Saturday. Open bowls beneath knife-edge ridges are bad places to be during earthquakes. First the mountain shook, destroying most of the village’s 180-odd stone and mud buildings. Then the ridgeline above simply fell apart, setting off the equivalent of a geologic mortar attack. A series of rockslides came off the mountainside, careering for about a quarter mile and gathering speed. Massive boulders ripped through town, crushing several houses. An elderly man out cutting grass was beheaded. When the geology had finished rearranging itself, 34 people perished and only a few buildings were left standing. The survivors burned the dead.
A couple of days later, when the hillsides were still shivering with aftershocks, Dipak Deuja, a charismatic, handsome 24-year-old from Dandagaun, started the long walk home. He’d been in Kathmandu at the time of the quake, and when he finally arrived at the village he found his immediate family and his bride of six weeks, Shunita, spared.
But 10 relatives, including an uncle, some nephews, and his brother’s wife, had been killed. Soon his cousin Sandesh Deuja, a 23-year-old truck driver with a somber glare and a crisp fauxhawk, arrived. He too had been working out of town at the time of the quake, and he too found his family spared but his house wrecked. Both men helped build temporary shelters from wood and corrugated metal for their families not more than 50 feet from the sites of their destroyed homes. Then they tended to the urgent matter of finding food. In rural Nepal, villagers cache harvested crops in their homes. Those were now a rubble. Sandesh and Dipak, like everyone else, dug out what rice and corn they could find and stored it in the school, which at least still had a roof. No walls, though—those had fallen in.
One week later, someone showed up: a raft guide named Megh Ale, who operates an eco-resort on the Bhote Koshi. He arrived with some medical supplies, volunteers, and not enough food. Upon seeing the extent of the devastation, he approached the Deujas. Ale told the cousins to head to Kathmandu and find a bed-and-breakfast called the Yellow House. Over the past two weeks, as the government and large international NGOs have struggled to deliver supplies in Nepal’s remote regions, the Yellow House has emerged as the hub of a vibrant guerrilla aid operation run by a handful of young people armed with little more than Facebook, open source mapping technology, local knowledge, and some antiestablishment verve. Read More

Second Nepal Earthquake The death toll from Tuesday's earthquake continues to rise, as the nation of Nepal states at least 76 have died from the quake. A U.S. Marine helicopter, which disappeared on the same day of the quake, remains missing. Tuesday's earthquake had an epicenter just 52 miles east of Kathmandu, and brought down many buildings that were already in precarious condition from the major quake back in April 25. The most recent quake had a magnitude of 7.3 and was followed by another quake of 6.3 magnitude less than an hour later. Aftershocks continue to rattle the nation on Wednesday.

Japan Could Face Mega Earthquake In The Near Future

[Inquisitir] Japan could face another mega earthquake, according to researchers in Japan, who have detected and traced shallow tremors under the ocean floor. It is the first time this technique has been used to predict earthquakes.
Japan is located in the most powerful seismic network in the world — having dealt with a devastating magnitude-9.0 earthquake as recently as 2011, which claimed the lives of near 16,000 people. The earthquake caused a tsunami along with a nuclear disaster in Fukushima. The World Bank estimated that the tsunami and earthquake that rocked Japan in March of 2011 was the most costly natural disaster in world history, at $235 billion.
In a subduction zone, one plate slides beneath another into the mantle, the hotter layer beneath the crust. The great plates are rough and stick together, building up energy that is released as earthquakes. East of Japan, the Pacific plate dives beneath the overriding Eurasian plate. The temblor completely released centuries of built up stress between the two tectonic plates, a recent study found.
According to reports, the researchers in Japan used Ocean Bottom Seismometers to measure motion under the sea. This technique is used to detect low-energy, slow earthquakes along the trenches that we otherwise would not notice.
The researchers warn that the next earthquake could occur off the coast of Kyushu, which is the southwesterly of Japan’s main islands and a region well known for its dangerous volcanoes. Having investigated the Kyusu Palau Ridge, the researchers have been able to detect and map shallow tremors in correlation with the other kinds of slow earthquakes. Read More

Strong Quake that Hit Japan is Aftershock A magnitude-6.8 earthquake that shook northeast Japan on Wednesday was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 quake that triggered a massive tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown.

Audi just created a new diesel made of water and carbon dioxide

[] While a future of electric charging stations dotting our highways inches closer to reality, Audi believes it may have created the “fuel of the future.”
Audi announced that the first batch of what it calls, “e-diesel” was manufactured in energy partner Sunfire’s Dresden, Germany, facility.
Water and carbon dioxide (CO2) are the only materials needed for producing the fuel, which was created after a commissioning phase of four months at the Dresden plant.
Through several steps of high-temperature and pressurized electrolysis and synthesizing, powered by renewable energy sources such as wind power, water and CO2 create what Audi and Sunfire call “blue crude.” This blue crude is then refined into Audi’s e-diesel.
The e-diesel, one of several Audi e-fuels in development, was used in German Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka’s official vehicle during the announcement.
“This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research,” Wanka said. “If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place.”
The main caveat is the price of the fuel. Sunfire says it costs between $4.25 and $6.42 per gallon.
However, the company’s feel that is within what most customers are willing to pay and Audi’s head of Sustainable Product Development Reiner Mangold added that the e-diesel has “virtually no impact on the climate.” Read More