The Admiral in the Library: The Millions Interviews James Stavridis

Here is an eye-opening, wide-ranging interview with the polymath Admiral James Stavridis by my friend Marcia Desanctis. A fascinating read, in which he extolls the virtues of Julia Child and “My Life in France,” among other books. He’s an extraordinary guy, and Marcia asks great questions. Have a look: === The Admiral in the Library: The Millions Interviews James Stavridis THE MILLIONS INTERVIEW April 29, 2015 I recently attended a talk in Boston given by Adm. James Stavridis, the dean of the Fletcher School — Tufts University’s graduate school of Law and Diplomacy — his alma mater (and mine). The subject was global security, and during the course of his very sobering talk, he gave a fascinating sidebar on the importance of reading novels — of stories. Among the books he mentioned were The Orphan Master’s Son, The Circle, Matterhorn, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, and Station Eleven. === Stavridis has had an illustrious, globe-spanning career in the U.S. Military including three years leading U.S. Southern Command and four years (2009-2013) as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. When we met before dinner, we quickly launched into a rapid-fire chat about books we had recently read. It seemed to me, he had read everything. Through military ventures in Haiti, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, and Libya (among other operations Stavridis’s commanded was the 2011 NATO intervention that led to the downfall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime) on aircraft carriers and battleships, while serving at the Pentagon and on Navy destroyers, one thing has been consistent: his love of reading, and his need for books to help make sense of this...

“Wiring” the Hudson: is the water clean?

My friends at the Beacon Institute are using real-time data to find out just what, exactly, is going on in the Hudson River, and say this technology “could be transformational to the field of environmental science.” Here’s the Press Release: Launch of New Sensor Device on Hudson Set to “Wire” River for Cleaner Water Beacon Institute’s REON II could transform environmental science with cost-saving sensor arrays Media Contact:  Terry Platz at: tplatz@bire.org or (845) 838-1600 ext. 15 BEACON, NY (10/9/14)—In the race to find solutions to critical water issues, the launch of a new cost-effective water quality sensor device by Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries|Clarkson University is the first step in overcoming hurdles of historically prohibitive costs for long-term water resource monitoring. The installation of the Institute’s newest generation of River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON II) sensor arrays signifies the passing of the baton from the science lab to the river as they run ahead, complementing government capacity to invest in “wiring” the river for cleaner water. The REON II device or “Sonde,” deployed October 6th on the banks of the Hudson River in New Hamburg, NY is providing real-time data called for by scientists to better understand the complex relationship between humans, the built environment and our fragile waterways. It is one of 37 sensor stations currently in place in the Hudson and St. Lawrence River watersheds, making REON one of the world’s most robust resources of real-time data. The goal of the REON research team to develop affordable, scalable, low-profile sensor networks and its potential for making water sensor technology universal, could be transformational to the field of environmental...

14 yr drought stressing Vegas + Lake Mead, our largest reservoir

excellent, sobering piece in today’s NYT:   Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States Jim Wilson/The New York Times To help the Colorado, federal authorities this year will for the first time reduce the water flow into Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, created by Hoover Dam. By MICHAEL WINES Published: January 5, 2014n_top> LAKE MEAD, Nev. — The sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years. Multimedia Graphic Southwest’s Dwindling Water Supply The once broad and blue river has in many places dwindled to a murky brown trickle. Reservoirs have shrunk to less than half their capacities, the canyon walls around them ringed with white mineral deposits where water once lapped. Seeking to stretch their allotments of the river, regional water agencies are recycling sewage effluent, offering rebates to tear up grass lawns and subsidizing less thirsty appliances from dishwashers to shower heads. But many experts believe the current drought is only the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished. Faced with the shortage, federal authorities this year will for the first time decrease the amount of water that flows into Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, from Lake Powell 180 miles upstream. That will reduce even more the level of Lake Mead, a crucial source of water for cities from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and for millions of acres of farmland. Reclamation officials say there is a 50-50 chance that by 2015, Lake Mead’s water...

Fracking in CA: a good idea? My take in the LA Times

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed ‘Fracking’ the Monterey Shale — boon or boondoggle? Extracting oil and gas from the California formation could bring the state economic prosperity — or it could be an environmental disaster. Oil rig pump jacks work the oil fields near the town of Maricopa located in the oil rich hills West of Bakersfield between Maricopa and Taft. A recent study by USC predicts that a Monterey Shale boom could add $4.5 billion in tax revenue to state coffers and 2.8 million California jobs by 2020, and would turn the state into the nation’s leading oil producer. (Los Angeles Times / December 27, 2013) By Alex Prud’homme December 29, 2013  “Eureka!” reads the California motto, originated in the 19th century Gold Rush. Now some believe the state is on the cusp of a 21st century bonanza, only this time it will be oil that fuels a Golden State boom. Modern prospectors are eyeing the Monterey Shale formation, a 1,750-square-mile resource-rich swath of land in the San Joaquin Valley. Lying deep beneath the valley’s surface is a trove of shale oil — some 15.42 billion barrels’ worth, according to an estimate by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If that proves true, the Monterey formation holds the equivalent of 64% of America’s total shale oil reserves. A recent study by USC predicts that a Monterey Shale boom could add $4.5 billion in tax revenue to state coffers and 2.8 million California jobs by 2020, and would turn the state into the nation’s leading oil producer. But there’s a catch, or three, to that rosy scenario … for the rest of the story, please...

Dropping today: my latest book, a primer on HYDROFRACKING

     Makes a lovely Holiday gift!  Support your local Indie bookstore, or shop online: AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0199311250/?tag=publishmarket-20 BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hydrofracking-alex-prudhomme/1114814073?ean=9780199311255   Library Journal 11/15/2013 Drilling with hydraulic fracturing, known as hydrofracking or fracking, to extract oil and natural gas has become a contentious issue. Journalist Prud’homme (The Ripple Effect) seeks to clarify the situation. He points out that the technique is transforming energy use in North America. While conventional petroleum reserves are declining, shale formations are sites of a potential new gas bonanza. Coal-fired electric power plants are being replaced with cleaner gas plants. North American industry is more globally competitive as gas feedstocks become cheaper. If priced correctly, such abundant natural gas could become a “bridge fuel” to a renewable energy economy. Prud’homme expects that stricter EPA standards and technical improvements by energy corporations will make the process more acceptable; at the moment, he explains, the hydrofracking process consumes vast amounts of water, and the recycling or disposal of the wastewater is problematic. Because of the unknown composition of proprietary chemicals used, the monitoring and treating of groundwater near drill sites is hampered, and human and animal health may be affected. VERDICT This overview of hydrofracking and the bitter conflicts it causes will especially interest residents of states and provinces with shale oil and the potential for gas production.—David R. Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC...

Attention Holiday shoppers – Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know drops today!

Attention Holiday shoppers – my latest book is now available. It’s a short paperback – makes a lovely stocking stuffer and gift for friends, family, and colleagues: = http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofracking-What-Everyone-Needs-Know/dp/0199311250/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383788943&sr=1-1&keywords=hydrofracking+what+everyone+needs+to+know = http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hydrofracking-alex-prudhomme/1114814073?ean=9780199311255 = Overview: Constantly in the news and the subject of much public debate, fracking, as it is known for short, is one of the most promising yet controversial methods of extracting natural gas and oil. Today, 90 percent of natural gas wells use fracking. Though highly effective, the process-which fractures rock with pressurized fluid-has been criticized for polluting land, air, and water, and endangering human health. A timely addition to Oxford’s What Everyone Needs to Knowseries, Hydrofracking tackles this contentious topic, exploring both sides of the debate and providing a clear guide to the science underlying the technique. In concise question-and-answer format, Alex Prud’homme cuts through the maze of opinions and rhetoric to uncover key points, from the economic and political benefits of fracking to the health dangers and negative effects on the environment. Prud’homme offers clear answers to a range of fundamental questions, including: What is fracking fluid? How does it impact water supplies? Who regulates the industry? How much recoverable natural gas exists in the U.S.? What new innovations are on the horizon? Supporters as diverse as President Obama and the conservative billionaire T. Boone Pickens have promoted natural gas as a clean, “21st-century” fuel that will reduce global warming, create jobs, and provide tax revenues, but concerns remain, with environmental activists like Bill McKibben and others leading protests to put an end to fracking as a means of obtaining alternative energy. Prud’homme considers ways to improve methods in...