Tag Archives: Michigan

Roeper Alumni Service Corps 2011!

Great people from a great school (Roeper) doing good things for a great city (Detroit)…

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Father of Cryonics cryonically preserved

Robert Ettinger has been Cryopreserved
Monday, Jul 25 2011 

cryonics
Michael Anissimov
11:36 am

Robert Ettinger, a hero among many transhumanists for fathering the cryonics movement, has been cryopreserved at age 92 in Clinton Township, Michigan. He died on Saturday, July 23.

The Cryonics Institute press release is here. There are a few obituaries online, including one from the Telegraph. Chronopause, a cryonics blog, reviews the history of Ettinger and cryonics.

Ettinger’s 1962 book The Prospect of Immortality and 1972 book Man into Superman inspire many transhumanists to think beyond the “inevitability” of death.

Ben Best was quoted by KurzweilAI.net on the suspension:

“Robert Ettinger deanimated [Saturday] at around 4 p.m. Eastern Time,” said Ben Best, president of the Cryonics Institute. “He was under hospice care and had an ice bath sitting by his bedside. His pronouncement and initiation of cooling was very rapid. The perfusion went well and he is now in the cooling box. Much more later.”

Ettinger’s 1962 book was a turning point in human history. It represented the first time when people acquired the ambition to preserve the fine-grained structure of the human brain at death. Although Ben Franklin had imagined suspended animation centuries earlier, it wasn’t until Ettinger’s 1962 work that the idea became real. Ettinger participated in the first cryonic suspension in 1967.

Ettinger’s first book was republished by Doubleday after it was sent to Isaac Asimov who said that the concept was scientifically sound.

I hope that Ettinger is revived in the not-too-distant future to “taste the wine of centuries unborn”.

One Response »

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Singularity Institute Announces Research Associates Program
Friday, Jul 22 2011 

friendly ai and SIAI
Michael Anissimov
6:05 am

From SIAI blog:

The Singularity Institute is proud to announce the expansion of our research efforts with our new Research Associates program!

Research associates are chosen for their excellent thinking ability and their passion for our core mission. Research associates are not salaried staff, but we encourage their Friendly AI-related research outputs by, for example, covering their travel costs for conferences at which they present academic work relevant to our mission.

Our first three research associates are:

Daniel Dewey, an AI researcher, holds a B.S. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. He is presenting his paper ‘Learning What to Value‘ at the AGI-11 conference this August.

Vladimir Nesov, a decision theory researcher, holds an M.S. in applied mathematics and physics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He helped Wei Dai develop updateless decision theory, in pursuit of one of the Singularity Institute core research goals: that of developing a ‘reflective decision theory.’

Peter de Blanc, an AI researcher, holds an M.A. in mathematics from Temple University. He has written several papers on goal systems for decision-theoretic agents, including ‘Convergence of Expected Utility for Universal AI‘ and ‘Ontological Crises in Artificial Agents’ Value Systems.’

We’re excited to welcome Peter, Vladimir, and Daniel to our team!

5 Responses »

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Clues the Post was a Lie
Friday, Jul 22 2011 

transhumanism
Michael Anissimov
5:15 am

Who needs “transhumanism”?

I am the Secretary of Humanity+. I am a true “child of the Singularity” who has been a transhumanist since around age 7. At that age, I envisioned a machine for reversing aging by arranging molecules on the nanoscale, and planned to invent such a machine if no one else did.

Millions of dollars are going into fields such as brain-computer interfacing, robotics, AI, and regenerative medicine without the influence of “transhumanists”. Wouldn’t transhumanism be better off if we relinquished the odd name and just marketed ourselves as “normal”?

Cool stuff happens because transhumanists are scientists and engineers. Non-transhumanist scientists and engineers are missing a piece of the picture. Ed Boyden, Allan Snyder, Miguel Nicolelis, Aubrey de Grey, the Andregg brothers, Boston Robotics, Hanson Robotics, need I go on? When you visit a multi-million dollar lab and talk to the flagrant transhumanists that run it, you have a tendency to say, “OK, this ideology obviously makes people act differently”. Not everyone wears transhumanism on their sleeve. But they do wear it on their spirits.

Wild transhumanist ideas such as cryonics, molecular nanotechnology, hard takeoff, Jupiter Brains, and the like, distract our audience from the incremental transhumanist advances occurring on an everyday basis in labs at universities around the world. Brain implants exist, gene sequencing exists, regenerative medicine exists — why is this any different than normal science and medicine?

Normal medicine is about healing. Transhumanism is not just about healing, but enhancing. The difference couldn’t be any more fundamental. One exhibits status quo bias, the other doesn’t.

Motivations such as the desire to raise one’s father from the dead are clearly examples of theological thinking. Instead of embracing theology, we need to face the nitty gritty of the world here and now, with all of its blemishes and problems.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to raise your father from the dead, or make a simulacra of him from his DNA and memories.

The nitty gritty of the world here and now is that superintelligence is around the corner and if we don’t get it right then we will perish outright. It’s counterintuitive but that is reality. Sorry if you were expecting something different.

Since the universe doesn’t love us and has no special reason to keep us alive we sort of have to fend for ourselves. Historically, species die out. If you had been personally present at the Permian-Triassic event, you would understand that. Sometimes lava rains from the sky. That’s life. Sometimes nuclear missiles rain from the sky. Sometimes AIs see that your argument for being allowed to exist isn’t sufficiently persuasive to avoid converting you into utilitronium.

Instead of working towards blue-sky, neo-apocalyptic discontinuous advances, we need to preserve democracy by promoting incremental advances to ensure that every citizen has a voice in every important societal change, and the ability to democratically reject those changes if desired.

Democracy is a great idea in principle, but unfortunately the overhead of logistics often make it impractical for fine-grained decisions. That’s why we should build optimization processes that are more sensitive to human needs.

To ensure that there is not a gap between the enhanced and the unenhanced, we should let true people — Homo sapiens — be allowed to vote on whether certain technological enhancements are allowed. Anything else would be irresponsible.

You don’t have to be a member of this species to be a person worthy of value. That is obvious.

The question of which enhancements should be allowed is complex, and not straightforward. I don’t have a solution. There should be public debate.

Another distinction that might help to distinguish ethical technoscience interventions from unethical ones is whether the intervention affects the intrinsic being or essence of a person — for instance, their sense of self or consciousness — or is external to that. The former, I propose, are always unethical, while the latter may not be.

I will intervene in my own essence. If you try to stop me — good luck.

The intrinsic essence and being of a person is not something to be taken for granted — it has been shaped carefully by millions of years of evolution. If we start picking arbitrary variables and trying to optimize them, the consequences could be very unpredictable. Our lust for pleasure and power could quickly lead us to a dark road of narcissistic self-enhancement and disenfranchisement of the majority of humanity.

This is the most serious part of the post. We are on a stable island and any departure should be considered carefully. If we jump like idiots, we will fall into the abyss.

Be careful, self-absorbed narcissistic humans! (All of us, to a very real extent.) Darwinian puppet strings have programmed us to be self-serving hypocrites. I didn’t do it — blame God.

36 Responses »

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Most Popular Posts This Year So Far
Thursday, Jul 21 2011 

meta
Michael Anissimov
8:43 pm

1. Amusing Ourselves to Death
2. Ten Futuristic Materials
3. Top 10 Transhumanist Technologies
4. Brain-Computer Interfaces for Manipulating Dreams
5. The Benefits of a Successful Singularity
6. Six Places to Nuke for Multiplier Effects
7. Response to Charles Stross’ “Three arguments against the Singularity”
8. How Can I Incorporate Transhumanism into my Daily Life?
9. A Nuclear Reactor in Every Home
10. Wish
11. Terraformed Mars
12. Why “Transhumanism” is Unnecessary
13. Hard Takeoff Sources
14. X-Seed 4000
15. Kurzweil’s 2009 Predictions
16. The Illusion of Control in an Intelligence Amplification Singularity
17. Collaborative Map of Transhumanists Worldwide
18. Continuing Discussion with Mr. Knapp at Forbes
19. Paul Graham’s Disagreement Hierarchy
20. The Final Weapon

No Responses »

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The Singularity is Far: A Neuroscientist’s View
Thursday, Jul 21 2011 

singularity
Michael Anissimov
7:26 pm

I haven’t read this, I’m just posting it because other people are talking about it.

Ray Kurzweil, the prominent inventor and futurist, can’t wait to get nanobots into his brain. In his view, these devices will be equipped with a variety of sensors and stimulators and will communicate wirelessly with computers outside of the body. In addition to providing unprecedented insight into brain function at the cellular level, brain-penetrating nanobots would provide the ultimate virtual reality experience.

Article.

2 Responses »

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The Last Post Was an Experiment
Wednesday, Jul 20 2011 

singularity and transhumanism
Michael Anissimov
3:34 am

+1 for everyone who saw through my lie.

I thought it would be interesting to say stuff not aligned with what I believe to see the reaction.

The original prompt is that I was sort of wondering why no one was contributing to our Humanity+ matching challenge grant.

Maybe because many futurist-oriented people don’t think transhumanism is very important.

They’re wrong. Without a movement, the techno-savvy and existential risk mitigators are just a bunch of unconnected chumps, or in isolated little cells of 4-5 people. With a movement, hundreds or even thousands of people can provide many thousands of dollars worth of mutual value in “consulting” and work cooperation to one another on a regular basis, which gives us the power to spread our ideas and stand up to competing movements, like Born Again bioconservatism, which would have us all die by age 110.

I believe the “Groucho Marxes” — who “won’t join any club that will have them” are sidelining themselves from history. Organized transhumanism is very important.

I thought quoting Margaret Somerville would pretty much give it away, but apparently not.

To me, cybernetics etc. are just a tiny skin on the peach that is the Singularity and the post-Singularity world. To my mind, SL4 transhumanism is pretty damn cool and important. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words for why I think so, but there must be something I’m missing.

To quote Peter Thiel, those not looking closely at the Singularity and the potentially discontinuous impacts of AI are “living in a fantasy world”.

72 Responses »

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Why “Transhumanism” is Unnecessary
Sunday, Jul 17 2011 

transhumanism
Michael Anissimov
5:04 pm

Who needs “transhumanism”? Millions of dollars are going into fields such as brain-computer interfacing, robotics, AI, and regenerative medicine without the influence of “transhumanists”. Wouldn’t transhumanism be better off if we relinquished the odd name and just marketed ourselves as “normal”?

Wild transhumanist ideas such as cryonics, molecular nanotechnology, hard takeoff, Jupiter Brains, and the like, distract our audience from the incremental transhumanist advances occurring on an everyday basis in labs at universities around the world. Brain implants exist, gene sequencing exists, regenerative medicine exists — why is this any different than normal science and medicine?

Motivations such as the desire to raise one’s father from the dead are clearly examples of theological thinking. Instead of embracing theology, we need to face the nitty gritty of the world here and now, with all of its blemishes and problems.

Instead of working towards blue-sky, neo-apocalyptic discontinuous advances, we need to preserve democracy by promoting incremental advances to ensure that every citizen has a voice in every important societal change, and the ability to democratically reject those changes if desired.

To ensure that there is not a gap between the enhanced and the unenhanced, we should let true people — Homo sapiens — be allowed to vote on whether certain technological enhancements are allowed. Anything else would be irresponsible.

As Margaret Somerville recently wrote in the Vancouver Sun:

Another distinction that might help to distinguish ethical technoscience interventions from unethical ones is whether the intervention affects the intrinsic being or essence of a person — for instance, their sense of self or consciousness — or is external to that. The former, I propose, are always unethical, while the latter may not be.

The intrinsic essence and being of a person is not something to be taken for granted — it has been shaped carefully by millions of years of evolution. If we start picking arbitrary variables and trying to optimize them, the consequences could be very unpredictable. Our lust for pleasure and power could quickly lead us to a dark road of narcissistic self-enhancement and disenfranchisement of the majority of humanity.

59 Responses »

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$18.5 Million for Brain-Computer Interfacing
Thursday, Jul 14 2011 

BCI
Michael Anissimov
7:34 am

Another university is opening up a BCI lab, University of Washington. It makes sense because it’s near the Allen Institute for Brain Science, among other reasons. Did I mention that Christof Koch, the new Chief Science Officer of the Allen Institute, will be speaking at Singularity Summit?

Here’s an excerpt of the news release:

The National Science Foundation today announced an $18.5 million grant to establish an Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering based at the University of Washington.

“The center will work on robotic devices that interact with, assist and understand the nervous system,” said director Yoky Matsuoka, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering. “It will combine advances in robotics, neuroscience, electromechanical devices and computer science to restore or augment the body’s ability for sensation and movement.”

The text is pretty generic boilerplate, it’s just the action that is important. We will likely have to wait a year or more before any interesting breakthroughs from this lab hit the news.

7 Responses »

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Richard Yonck: The Hacking of Human 2.0
Thursday, Jul 14 2011 

transhumanism
Michael Anissimov
4:24 am

Yesterday I posted a particularly well-written article to H+ magazine, Richard Yonck’s “The Hacking of Human 2.0″. The use of the word “hacking” in the article is in the negative sense of hijacking rather than the cool sense of hacking. The topic is particularly interesting to me at the moment as I’m watching Stand Alone Complex, which features BCI hacking as a major story element. Here’s the beginning of the article:

With each passing year, the ability to alter our minds and bodies through technology grows. Advances in biotechnology, neuroengineering, robotics and myriad other fields are steadily changing the human condition. Many of these changes will be for the better, but there will be a downside too. In the course of augmenting our physical and mental abilities, we’re also introducing new vulnerabilities, opening ourselves up to invasive attacks that could threaten our finances, our identities, even our lives. In short, we’re quickly approaching a time when we’ll have to protect against the hacking of Human 2.0.

Hacking is defined as accessing or manipulating a system in ways other than its developers originally intended, often exploiting flaws in the system’s design. At first, computer hacking and phone phreaking were activities borne of curiosity and exploration. But over time, the methods and security flaws that were discovered came to be used by criminals and spies for other, darker purposes. It’s a natural progression; anytime conditions present the opportunity to steal or cause wanton damage, there will be some who want to take advantage of them. Transhumanism will soon have to contend with this very problem.

By the way, I am still seeking article submissions for H+ magazine!

Yonck blogs at http://intelligent-future.com. He also contributed the front page article for the most recent edition of The Futurist magazine.

No Responses »

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Dale Carrico Classics
Thursday, Jul 7 2011 

transhumanism
Michael Anissimov
6:56 pm

Just in case there are new readers, I want to refer them to the writings of Dale Carrico, probably the best transhumanist critic thus far. He’s a lecturer at Berkeley. (Maybe The New Atlantis should try hiring him, though I sort of doubt they’d get along.) I especially enjoy this post responding to my “Transhumanism Has Already Won” post:

The Robot Cultists Have Won?

When did that happen?

In something of a surprise move, Singularitarian Transhumanist Robot Cultist Michael Anissimov has declared victory. Apparently, the superlative futurologists have “won.” The Robot Cult, it would seem, has prevailed over the ends of the earth.

Usually, when palpable losers declare victory in this manner, the declaration is followed by an exit, either graceful or grumbling, from the stage. But I suspect we will not be so lucky when it comes to Anissimov and his fellow victorious would-be techno-transcendentalizers.

Neither can we expect them “to take their toys and go home,” as is usual in such scenes. After all, none of their toys — none of their shiny robot bodies, none of their sentient devices, none of their immortality pills, none of their immersive holodecks, none of their desktop nanofactories, none of their utility fogs, none of their comic book body or brain enhancement packages, none of their kindly or vengeful superintelligent postbiological Robot Gods — none of them exist now for them to go home with any more than they ever did, they exist only as they always have done, as wish-fulfillment fancies in their own minds.

You can read the whole thing at Dale’s blog.

21 Responses »

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Matter, Antimatter Origin Theories — Baryogenesis
Thursday, Jul 7 2011 

physics
Michael Anissimov
2:12 am

I remember reading somewhere that one possibility in the early universe is that a tremendous amount of matter and antimatter both formed, most of it annihilated itself, and the small amount that remained became our present matter-dominated universe. From a few casual Google searches I have not been able to find this reference. It was probably some popular physics book written in the 1990s. Possibility one in the summary below would appear to correspond to this scenario, however.

The question is that of baryogenesis, which is not well understood. Here’s the background from Wikipedia:

The Dirac equation, formulated by Paul Dirac around 1928 as part of the development of relativistic quantum mechanics, predicts the existence of antiparticles along with the expected solutions for the corresponding particles. Since that time, it has been verified experimentally that every known kind of particle has a corresponding antiparticle. The CPT Theorem guarantees that a particle and its antiparticle have exactly the same mass and lifetime, and exactly opposite charge. Given this symmetry, it is puzzling that the universe does not have equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Indeed, there is no experimental evidence that there are any significant concentrations of antimatter in the observable universe.

There are two main interpretations for this disparity: either the universe began with a small preference for matter (total baryonic number of the universe different from zero), or the universe was originally perfectly symmetric, but somehow a set of phenomena contributed to a small imbalance in favour of matter over time. The second point of view is preferred, although there is no clear experimental evidence indicating either of them to be the correct one. The preference is based on the following point of view: if the universe encompasses everything (time, space, and matter), nothing exists outside of it and therefore nothing existed before it, leading to a total baryonic number of 0. From a more scientific point of view, there are reasons to expect that any initial asymmetry would be wiped out to zero during the early history of the universe. One challenge then is to explain how the total baryonic number is not conserved.

I’ve been told that a lot of stuff exists outside of our local universe, but I don’t want to make this more complicated than it already is.

5 Responses »

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Experimental Support for Monkey Self-Agency
Thursday, Jul 7 2011 

intelligence
Michael Anissimov
2:06 am

For a contemporary press release relevant to my recent debate with Alex Knapp, “Rhesus monkeys have a form of self awareness not previously attributed to them”:

In the first study of its kind in an animal species that has not passed a critical test of self-recognition, cognitive psychologist Justin J. Couchman of the University at Buffalo has demonstrated that rhesus monkeys have a sense of self-agency — the ability to understand that they are the cause of certain actions — and possess a form of self awareness previously not attributed to them.

The study, which will be published July 6 in Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society, may illuminate apparent self-awareness deficits in humans with autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and developmental disabilities.
Rhesus monkeys are one of the best-known species of Old World monkeys, and have been used extensively in medical and biological research aimed at creating vaccines for rabies, smallpox and polio and drugs to manage HIV/AIDS; analyzing stem cells and sequencing the genome. Humans have sent them into space, cloned them and planted jellyfish genes in them.

Couchman, a PhD candidate at UB, is an instructor at UB and at the State University of New York College at Fredonia. He points out that previous research has shown that rhesus monkeys, like apes and dolphins, have metacognition, or the ability to monitor their own mental states. Nevertheless, the monkeys consistently fail the mirror self-recognition test, which assesses whether animals can recognize themselves in a mirror, and this is an important measure self-awareness.

“We know that in humans, the sense of self-agency is closely related to self-awareness,” Couchman says, “and that it results from monitoring the relationship between pieces of intentional, sensorimotor and perceptual information.
“Based on previous findings in comparative metacognition research, we thought that even though they fail the mirror test, rhesus monkeys might have some other form of self-awareness. In this study we looked at whether the monkeys have a sense of self agency, that is, the understanding that some actions are the consequence of their own intentions.”

Continued.

One Response »

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Climate Change Disrupts Great Lakes National Parks in US | Blue Channel 24

isleroyale

Five Great Lakes national parks and lakeshores are feeling the impacts of climate change, finds a new report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Natural Resources Defense Council. Lake Michigan may have some winters with no ice cover within 10 years, and Lake Superior may be ice-free in about three decades, the report warns.

The five largest parks on the Great Lakes are experiencing rising temperatures, decreased winter ice, eroding shorelines, spreading disease, and a crowding out of key wildlife and plant life.

“Human disruption of the climate is the greatest threat ever to America’s national parks. This report details the particular threats that a changed climate poses to our Great Lakes national parks,” said Stephen Saunders, president, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior overseeing the National Park Service.

The five parks are: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Indiana near Chicago; Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, just offshore from Minnesota; and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin.

The report documents that the amount of rain falling in heavy storms in the Midwest increased by 31 percent over the past century, a level well above the national average of 22 percent.

Winds over the Great Lakes are stronger than they used to be. Lake Superior wind speeds have increased by 12 percent since 1985.

The temperatures of Great Lakes waters are hotter, increasing more in recent decades than air temperatures have. Lake Superior’s summer water temperatures rose about 4.5 degrees from 1979 to 2006, roughly double the rate at which summer air temperatures have gone up over the surrounding land.

In 2010, a tick of the type that carries Lyme disease was confirmed at Isle Royale for the first time – a fact stated publicly for the first time in this report. Cold temperatures previously prevented these ticks from reaching so far north, but their spread into the region had been projected as the climate gets hotter. The Lyme disease ticks also have spread to nearby Grand Portage National Monument for the first time.

The threats of climate disruption to the national parks in the Great Lakes are also threats to the Great Lakes regional economy, the report points out.

Mayor Larry J. MacDonald of Bayfield, Wisconsin said, “The City of Bayfield, as the gateway community to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, faces the financial reality that climate change will bring tremendous economic challenges to our National Lakeshore-based local tourism economy. We need to continue to respect and protect Lake Superior. When the Lake is healthy, our community and the Apostle Islands will continue to prosper.”

The five parks featured in this report together drew more than four million visitors in 2010, according to the report. Visitor spending in 2009 totaled more than $200 million and supported nearly 3,000 jobs.

Said Thom Cmar, staff attorney in the Chicago office of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “We need to head off climate change quickly to protect our Great Lakes parks, the iconic landscapes and wildlife that live in them, and our own communities. Climate action is economic action in the Great Lakes.”

“To protect the jobs and massive revenue that come out of these parks, Congress needs to either act on climate or get out of the way and let the EPA do its job to limit carbon pollution,” Cmar said.

The report, “Great Lakes National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption,” finds higher temperatures, less winter ice, shoreline erosion, and loss of wildlife.

In Isle Royale, the moose population has declined, as have the numbers of the wolves that depend on them as prey. The moose population is down to about 515, half the park’s long-term average.

Temperatures higher than moose can tolerate could be responsible, as in nearby northwest Minnesota, where the moose population has crashed in the past two decades from 4,000 to fewer than 100 animals, coinciding with higher temperatures.

Also, warmer winters in Isle Royale enable enough ticks to overwinter and cause such a large loss of blood among the moose that they are more vulnerable to the park’s wolves, the report explains.

Isle Royale’s wolf population has fallen, too. The park’s moose make up 90 percent of the wolves’s prey, and declines in the moose population threaten the wolves. The park now has only 16 wolves in two packs, compared to 24 wolves in four packs a few years ago.

Lynx and martens in Isle Royale also at risk as the climate changes.

Birds at risk of being eliminated from the parks include common loons and ruffed grouse, iconic birds of the Great Lakes and the North Woods.

Other birds are also at risk. Botulism outbreaks linked to high water temperatures and low lake levels now kill hundreds to thousands of birds a year in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. So many dead birds drop onto the park’s beaches that the National Park Service patrols from June through November to clean up the bird carcasses.

“Change in nature is natural. But the changes we face with the accelerated rate of global climate change that our human activities have caused don’t allow millennia or even centuries for adaption; the changes now will take place in only decades without time for nature to adapt,” warned Dale Engquist, former superintendent, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and president, Chicago Wilderness Trust.

FROM | www.ens-newswire.com

The National Meteorological Service (SMN) issued an alert for heavy rain, storms and hail for today as sunny skies give space to cloudy ones at the same time as weather conditions worse around noon.

Authorities released the warning for most of the metropolitan area, center and east of the State, Entre Ríos province, south of Santa Fe province and La Plata River.

In a public statement, the SMN… Read More

Surrounded by a natural arena of sunset-tinged and snow-capped peaks, it’s impossible to imagine a more wild and spectacular location than Lago Pehoé in southern Chile’s improbably scenic Torres del Paine National Park. Another distinctly Patagonian bonus is sharing the jaw-dropping scenery with the local wildlife. Between bouts of trekking, river rafting and horseriding, ticking off most of the park’s iconic fauna comes remarkably easily to the curious traveller.

Rescuers returned 44 pilot whales to open water yesterday after a mass stranding in the estuary of a sea loch in the Scottish Highlands. Twenty-five whales from the pod died at the Kyle of Durness when they beached at low tide.

Attempts to refloat the whales began on Friday night. British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) medics, the coastguard and the Royal Navy managed to rotate whales that were… Read More

Climate Change Disrupts Great Lakes National Parks in US | Blue Channel 24

isleroyale

Five Great Lakes national parks and lakeshores are feeling the impacts of climate change, finds a new report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Natural Resources Defense Council. Lake Michigan may have some winters with no ice cover within 10 years, and Lake Superior may be ice-free in about three decades, the report warns.

The five largest parks on the Great Lakes are experiencing rising temperatures, decreased winter ice, eroding shorelines, spreading disease, and a crowding out of key wildlife and plant life.

“Human disruption of the climate is the greatest threat ever to America’s national parks. This report details the particular threats that a changed climate poses to our Great Lakes national parks,” said Stephen Saunders, president, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior overseeing the National Park Service.

The five parks are: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Indiana near Chicago; Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, just offshore from Minnesota; and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin.

The report documents that the amount of rain falling in heavy storms in the Midwest increased by 31 percent over the past century, a level well above the national average of 22 percent.

Winds over the Great Lakes are stronger than they used to be. Lake Superior wind speeds have increased by 12 percent since 1985.

The temperatures of Great Lakes waters are hotter, increasing more in recent decades than air temperatures have. Lake Superior’s summer water temperatures rose about 4.5 degrees from 1979 to 2006, roughly double the rate at which summer air temperatures have gone up over the surrounding land.

In 2010, a tick of the type that carries Lyme disease was confirmed at Isle Royale for the first time – a fact stated publicly for the first time in this report. Cold temperatures previously prevented these ticks from reaching so far north, but their spread into the region had been projected as the climate gets hotter. The Lyme disease ticks also have spread to nearby Grand Portage National Monument for the first time.

The threats of climate disruption to the national parks in the Great Lakes are also threats to the Great Lakes regional economy, the report points out.

Mayor Larry J. MacDonald of Bayfield, Wisconsin said, “The City of Bayfield, as the gateway community to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, faces the financial reality that climate change will bring tremendous economic challenges to our National Lakeshore-based local tourism economy. We need to continue to respect and protect Lake Superior. When the Lake is healthy, our community and the Apostle Islands will continue to prosper.”

The five parks featured in this report together drew more than four million visitors in 2010, according to the report. Visitor spending in 2009 totaled more than $200 million and supported nearly 3,000 jobs.

Said Thom Cmar, staff attorney in the Chicago office of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “We need to head off climate change quickly to protect our Great Lakes parks, the iconic landscapes and wildlife that live in them, and our own communities. Climate action is economic action in the Great Lakes.”

“To protect the jobs and massive revenue that come out of these parks, Congress needs to either act on climate or get out of the way and let the EPA do its job to limit carbon pollution,” Cmar said.

The report, “Great Lakes National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption,” finds higher temperatures, less winter ice, shoreline erosion, and loss of wildlife.

In Isle Royale, the moose population has declined, as have the numbers of the wolves that depend on them as prey. The moose population is down to about 515, half the park’s long-term average.

Temperatures higher than moose can tolerate could be responsible, as in nearby northwest Minnesota, where the moose population has crashed in the past two decades from 4,000 to fewer than 100 animals, coinciding with higher temperatures.

Also, warmer winters in Isle Royale enable enough ticks to overwinter and cause such a large loss of blood among the moose that they are more vulnerable to the park’s wolves, the report explains.

Isle Royale’s wolf population has fallen, too. The park’s moose make up 90 percent of the wolves’s prey, and declines in the moose population threaten the wolves. The park now has only 16 wolves in two packs, compared to 24 wolves in four packs a few years ago.

Lynx and martens in Isle Royale also at risk as the climate changes.

Birds at risk of being eliminated from the parks include common loons and ruffed grouse, iconic birds of the Great Lakes and the North Woods.

Other birds are also at risk. Botulism outbreaks linked to high water temperatures and low lake levels now kill hundreds to thousands of birds a year in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. So many dead birds drop onto the park’s beaches that the National Park Service patrols from June through November to clean up the bird carcasses.

“Change in nature is natural. But the changes we face with the accelerated rate of global climate change that our human activities have caused don’t allow millennia or even centuries for adaption; the changes now will take place in only decades without time for nature to adapt,” warned Dale Engquist, former superintendent, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and president, Chicago Wilderness Trust.

FROM | www.ens-newswire.com

The National Meteorological Service (SMN) issued an alert for heavy rain, storms and hail for today as sunny skies give space to cloudy ones at the same time as weather conditions worse around noon.

Authorities released the warning for most of the metropolitan area, center and east of the State, Entre Ríos province, south of Santa Fe province and La Plata River.

In a public statement, the SMN… Read More

Surrounded by a natural arena of sunset-tinged and snow-capped peaks, it’s impossible to imagine a more wild and spectacular location than Lago Pehoé in southern Chile’s improbably scenic Torres del Paine National Park. Another distinctly Patagonian bonus is sharing the jaw-dropping scenery with the local wildlife. Between bouts of trekking, river rafting and horseriding, ticking off most of the park’s iconic fauna comes remarkably easily to the curious traveller.

Rescuers returned 44 pilot whales to open water yesterday after a mass stranding in the estuary of a sea loch in the Scottish Highlands. Twenty-five whales from the pod died at the Kyle of Durness when they beached at low tide.

Attempts to refloat the whales began on Friday night. British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) medics, the coastguard and the Royal Navy managed to rotate whales that were… Read More

Woodward Light Fail: If Detroit can’t do rail, how can it keep young talent from fleeing? | MLive.com

Here’s all you need to know about the reported tension between Woodward Light Rail stakeholders: old people with gray hair are arguing about things old people with gray hair like to argue about. 

That’s not to dismiss fears that investors may pull back some or all of their $100 million commitment, it’s only to underscore how silly this spat is.

Over the last generation, cities across the country have built and supported light rail lines. The late Paul Weyrich, one of the conservative movement’s founding fathers and a fierce rail advocate, liked to point to Salt Lake City as a place without a long public transportation history where light rail was successful.

Consider this: If the private investors take their ball and go home and Woodward Light Rail fails, then Detroit can be reasonably considered less capable of urban redevelopment than Salt Lake City.

It’s not that light rail on Woodward is some magic bullet project, but if Detroit can’t do this—the most modest and obvious of urban transit projects—then there’s no reason to believe Detroit can ever muster the comeback necessary make this place a “world class city,” at least not in a sustainable macroscopic way. At that point there’s no reason for talented, ambitious young people to waste their time trying to make Detroit a better place.

Continue reading here: mlive.com

Woodward Light Fail: If Detroit can’t do rail, how can it keep young talent from fleeing? | MLive.com

Here’s all you need to know about the reported tension between Woodward Light Rail stakeholders: old people with gray hair are arguing about things old people with gray hair like to argue about. 

That’s not to dismiss fears that investors may pull back some or all of their $100 million commitment, it’s only to underscore how silly this spat is.

Over the last generation, cities across the country have built and supported light rail lines. The late Paul Weyrich, one of the conservative movement’s founding fathers and a fierce rail advocate, liked to point to Salt Lake City as a place without a long public transportation history where light rail was successful.

Consider this: If the private investors take their ball and go home and Woodward Light Rail fails, then Detroit can be reasonably considered less capable of urban redevelopment than Salt Lake City.

It’s not that light rail on Woodward is some magic bullet project, but if Detroit can’t do this—the most modest and obvious of urban transit projects—then there’s no reason to believe Detroit can ever muster the comeback necessary make this place a “world class city,” at least not in a sustainable macroscopic way. At that point there’s no reason for talented, ambitious young people to waste their time trying to make Detroit a better place.

Continue reading here: mlive.com

Coyotes make themselves at home in Michigan cities | Michigan Radio

Coyotes have been moving into a lot of American cities. Here in Michigan, you could potentially see coyotes almost anywhere. But researchers don’t know a whole lot about the state’s urban coyotes.

A small research team from Wayne State University hopes to change that. They’re trying to figure the animals out. They want to find out how many coyotes are living in cities. And they want to know what they’re eating, and how they survive.

A few weeks ago, one day just after dawn, I met up with the research team at the side of a road in Oakland County. We crossed the road to get to a grassy, undeveloped piece of land. The group fanned out to look for evidence of coyotes… that is: tracks, and scat.

After just a few steps, we found tracks.

Bill Dodge is a PhD student at Wayne State, and he’s the team leader.

“Coyote tracks are a lot neater than dog tracks, with coyotes usually the trail pattern is pretty straight as if they know where they’re going,” says Dodge.

A minute later, there was more evidence in the form of coyote scat.

The lucky guy who gets to collect that scat is Nick Marengo. He’s an undergrad at Wayne State. He fills out a data form and bags the scat.

Bill Dodge says he doesn’t leave the scat scooping to students,

“I’ll pick up scat… It’s not beneath me to pick up coyote scat,” says Dodge.

I’ll spare you the finer details, but basically, they’re finding out what the coyotes are eating.

Dodge says people often think urban coyotes are eating garbage and people’s pets, but that’s actually not very common. He says the coyote’s top three food items are:

  • Voles
  • Mice
  • Eastern cottontail rabbits

He says anywhere there’s green space with a little bit of cover, there are coyotes.

Even highway interchanges and Detroit Metro Airport.

The researchers are also trying to trap coyotes so they can put radio collars on and track them.

So far, they haven’t caught any. You know that thing you’ve heard about coyotes being wily? Bill Dodge says that’s true.

“They’re resilient,” says Dodge. “We’ve been trying to eliminate them for about 100 years and they’re still around and they’ve actually done well and prospered in urban areas.”

Both coyotes and wolves were bountied and killed for decades in Michigan. Bill Dodge says coyotes really rebounded in the 1980s. And he says it appears that coyotes have been moving into Michigan cities over the last decade or so.

“Territories outside urban areas are full so they’re moving into urban areas where there’s marginal habitat but it’s habitat in itself,” said Dodge.

And he says that’s making some people worried that coyotes might eat their pets. He says problem coyotes might have to be killed. But he says relocating coyotes won’t work.

“It’s kind of futile. We could remove the coyotes in this area and the void would just be filled by other coyotes,” said Dodge.

He says coyotes are just here now, and people will need to learn to co-exist with them.

He says there haven’t been any reported attacks on people in Michigan. But there have been a few reports of pets being attacked.

Research suggests that conflicts are more likely to happen when coyotes lose their natural fear of people. And that happens when people feed coyotes – either on purpose or accidentally.

Holly Hadac is volunteering for the coyote research project.

“With coyotes, it’s all about the food. That’s why we say a fed coyote is a dead coyote,” said Hadac.

She says it’s a good idea to bring pet food indoors, and secure compost piles with a cover. And never feed a coyote directly. She says even though coyote attacks on pets are rare, you should still keep an eye on your pets.

Coyotes make themselves at home in Michigan cities | Michigan Radio

Coyotes have been moving into a lot of American cities. Here in Michigan, you could potentially see coyotes almost anywhere. But researchers don’t know a whole lot about the state’s urban coyotes.

A small research team from Wayne State University hopes to change that. They’re trying to figure the animals out. They want to find out how many coyotes are living in cities. And they want to know what they’re eating, and how they survive.

A few weeks ago, one day just after dawn, I met up with the research team at the side of a road in Oakland County. We crossed the road to get to a grassy, undeveloped piece of land. The group fanned out to look for evidence of coyotes… that is: tracks, and scat.

After just a few steps, we found tracks.

Bill Dodge is a PhD student at Wayne State, and he’s the team leader.

“Coyote tracks are a lot neater than dog tracks, with coyotes usually the trail pattern is pretty straight as if they know where they’re going,” says Dodge.

A minute later, there was more evidence in the form of coyote scat.

The lucky guy who gets to collect that scat is Nick Marengo. He’s an undergrad at Wayne State. He fills out a data form and bags the scat.

Bill Dodge says he doesn’t leave the scat scooping to students,

“I’ll pick up scat… It’s not beneath me to pick up coyote scat,” says Dodge.

I’ll spare you the finer details, but basically, they’re finding out what the coyotes are eating.

Dodge says people often think urban coyotes are eating garbage and people’s pets, but that’s actually not very common. He says the coyote’s top three food items are:

  • Voles
  • Mice
  • Eastern cottontail rabbits

He says anywhere there’s green space with a little bit of cover, there are coyotes.

Even highway interchanges and Detroit Metro Airport.

The researchers are also trying to trap coyotes so they can put radio collars on and track them.

So far, they haven’t caught any. You know that thing you’ve heard about coyotes being wily? Bill Dodge says that’s true.

“They’re resilient,” says Dodge. “We’ve been trying to eliminate them for about 100 years and they’re still around and they’ve actually done well and prospered in urban areas.”

Both coyotes and wolves were bountied and killed for decades in Michigan. Bill Dodge says coyotes really rebounded in the 1980s. And he says it appears that coyotes have been moving into Michigan cities over the last decade or so.

“Territories outside urban areas are full so they’re moving into urban areas where there’s marginal habitat but it’s habitat in itself,” said Dodge.

And he says that’s making some people worried that coyotes might eat their pets. He says problem coyotes might have to be killed. But he says relocating coyotes won’t work.

“It’s kind of futile. We could remove the coyotes in this area and the void would just be filled by other coyotes,” said Dodge.

He says coyotes are just here now, and people will need to learn to co-exist with them.

He says there haven’t been any reported attacks on people in Michigan. But there have been a few reports of pets being attacked.

Research suggests that conflicts are more likely to happen when coyotes lose their natural fear of people. And that happens when people feed coyotes – either on purpose or accidentally.

Holly Hadac is volunteering for the coyote research project.

“With coyotes, it’s all about the food. That’s why we say a fed coyote is a dead coyote,” said Hadac.

She says it’s a good idea to bring pet food indoors, and secure compost piles with a cover. And never feed a coyote directly. She says even though coyote attacks on pets are rare, you should still keep an eye on your pets.

The Grand Rapids LipDub (NEW WORLD RECORD)

Pure Michigan, indeed! You go Grand Rapids!

GM: $69M investment and 2,500 jobs at Detroit-Hamtramck to produce Chevy Impala, Malibu #in

General Motors Co. will add two shifts and about 2,500 hourly and salaried workers to its Detroit-Hamtrack plant to build the Chevrolet Malibu and next-generation Impala, officials say.

This morning, the Detroit automaker officially made the announcement as part of its plan to create or retain about 4,000 jobs and invest $2 billion in 17 manufacturing facilities in eight states.

GM says it will invest $69 million into retooling for the new production of the Impala, which joins the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt and the upcoming Chevrolet Malibu at the facility.

The jobs will be filled by laid-off UAW members with the possibility of new hires to follow, according to GM.

Read the rest at mlive.com