Science Friday: Robin Williams as Mr. Leo, was right about Ship Camouflage | Is the Livestock Industry Destroying the Planet?

This article immediately made me think of the genius of Robin Williams

Camouflage Their Warships, They Made Them Dazzle

In order to stop the carnage wrought by German U-Boats, the Allied powers went way outside the box

smithsonian.com
April 7, 2016

[…]

How to camouflage ships at sea was one of the big questions of World War I. From the early stages of the war, artists, naturalists and inventors showered the offices of the United States Navy and the British Royal Navy with largely impractical suggestions on making ships invisible: Cover them in mirrors, disguise them as giant whales, drape them in canvas to make them look like clouds. Eminent inventor Thomas Edison’s scheme of making a ship appear like an island – with trees, even – was actually put into practice. The S.S. Ockenfels, however, only made it as far as New York Harbor before everyone realized what a bad and impractical idea it was when part of the disguise, a canvas covering, blew away. Though protective coloring and covers worked on land, the sea was a vastly different environment. Ships moved through changing light and visibility, they were subject to extreme weather, they belched black smoke and bled rust. Any sort of camouflage would have to work in variable and challenging conditions.

Wilkinson’s innovation, what would be called “dazzle,” was that rather than using camouflage to hide the vessel, he used it to hide the vessel’s intention. Later he’d say that he’d realized that, “Since it was impossible to paint a ship so that she could not be seen by a submarine, the extreme opposite was the answer – in other words, to paint her, not for low visibility, but in such a way as to break up her form and thus confuse a submarine officer as the course on which she was heading.”

[…]

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-british-wanted-camouflage-their-warships-they-made-them-dazzle-180958657/


This short report from Vice gives a quick overview of the situation; article below

Is the Livestock Industry Destroying the Planet?

For the earth’s sake, maybe it’s time we take a good, hard look at our dietary habits

smithsonian.com
August 1, 2012

For the epicurean traveler, discovering new landscapes also means discovering new foods. And no doubt, new tasting experiences are one of the highlights of going places, yet I’m going to suggest something a bit radical, yet simple—that perhaps we all consider abstaining, at least sometimes, from dishes containing either meat or dairy, even while we’re abroad in new lands with exotic cuisines to explore. Don’t panic at the suggestion—just listen: An abundance of science analyzing the impacts on the earth of livestock farming has concluded that humanity’s appetite for meat and dairy products is having serious environmental consequences. Livestock species contribute directly and indirectly to deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gases, global warming, desertification, erosion and human obesity, and virtually anywhere you go in the world, the damage done by ruminants, pigs and poultry, and those who grow feed crops for them, is visible on the land. Dry and scrubby Greece, once a nation of woodlands, has gone to the goats. In Brazil, forests are falling before the advance of soybean fields, cultivated largely as beef fodder. In New Zealand, the banks of wild streams are frequently found trampled and muddied by grazers.

Other ecological problems associated with raising livestock are less obvious to the eye—like loss of biodiversity. On parts of the Great Plains, cows, and the fields of grain they eat, have replaced pronghorn antelope and bison. Livestock ranchers worldwide have participated heavily in the extermination of wild predators. In California, overuse of river water for agricultural use, including a million acres of water-intensive alfalfa (the state’s highest-acreage crop, used for feeding animals), has contributed to the long-term decline of wild salmon runs. Sixty percent of the state’s alfalfa fields lie in the San Joaquin Valley, ground zero in the water wars between farmers and salmon fishermen. And the mighty, man-size totuava, a Mexican fish species that once spawned in huge swarms in the Colorado River delta, has just about vanished partly because the Colorado barely reaches the Sea of Cortez anymore (remember in Into the Wild when vagabond Chris McCandless was unable to find the sea as he paddled a canoe downstream through the Colorado River delta?). Much of the Colorado’s flow is diverted to the Imperial Valley, a regional king of alfalfa hay production. Most California-grown alfalfa is fed to dairy cows—meaning, sadly, that the production of milk and of California’s acclaimed cheeses may be as problematic as raising meat.

The global scope of the livestock issue is huge. A 212-page online report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says 26 percent of the earth’s terrestrial surface is used for livestock grazing. One-third of the planet’s arable land is occupied by livestock feed crop cultivation. Seventy percent of Brazil’s deforested land is used as pasture, with feed crop cultivation occupying much of the remainder. And in Botswana, the livestock industry consumes 23 percent of all water used. Globally, 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the livestock industry—more than is produced by transportation-related sources. And in the United States, livestock production is responsible for 55 percent of erosion, 37 percent of all applied pesticides and 50 percent of antibiotics consumed, while the animals themselves directly consume 95 percent of our oat production and 80 percent of our corn, according to the Sierra Club.

[…]

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/is-the-livestock-industry-destroying-the-planet-11308007/

 

 

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