Knox’s Wireless Green

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Welcome to this week’s installment of Knox’s Wireless Green, a rundown of all the week’s most interesting, weird, and popular stories from the worlds of science and the environment.

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So far, I’ve managed to keep from tooting our own horn, so to speak, in this column. We’ve certainly had our fair share of awesome stories that would have been perfect in this column, but it seemed a bit like cheating. This time I just can’t keep away. Our new contributor Ben Ray filed his very first story, a hilarious look at one of the more ridiculous political and environmental events of all time. Atlanta, and Georgia in general, has been struck with a severe drought recently that many say is one of global warming’s effects. Regardless of its cause, Georgia’s solutions have been nothing less than crazy. First the governor told everyone to pray for rain. That didn’t work, so the state decided to do the sensible thing and steal part of Tennessee. That’s right, Georgia is claiming more than a mile of Tennessee territory is actually theirs because of a survey conducted in the early 1800s. Of course, this territory just happens to contain a big river full of nice fresh water that the state desperately needs. How this will end we can only wait and see.

After all that craziness, a little serious science is a breath of fresh air. A group of scientists at Harvard University recently announced the publication of the first volume of the Encyclopedia of Life. The first volume alone will contain 30,000 pages, and the whole work will contain information on every single living species on the planet. That’s over 1.8 million different entries. The tool should be an invaluable research tool for scientists and pretty much anyone interested in the plants and animals that populate our planet.

Around the same time, a cooperative effort between two Arizona energy companies was announced. The deal will result in the world’s largest solar power plant, located around 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. The plant, named Solana for the Spanish word for “sunny place”, will have a capacity of 280 megawatts, or enough to power 70,000 homes.

Probably the biggest environmental story of the week came from one of the most remote places in the world. Svalbard, a group of Arctic Norwegian islands, opened the Global Seed Vault this week. The vault is more commonly known as the Doomsday Vault, because it contains seeds for all the worlds most important crops and plant species to be used in the event of a massive global catastrophe. I’m not quite sure this was as good an idea as they thought it was. For one thing, Svalbard is hard enough to get to right now. If there’s a global catastrophe that wipes out agriculture, it’s also going to make it difficult for us to travel that far into the Arctic. The vault will contain around 10 million seeds from over 250,000 species around the world.

Join us next week for another rundown of the best freaky, fun, and just plain awesome links.

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