Build a Wind Farm the size of India in the Atlantic and there’ll be enough energy for the world

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This is the startling proposal of two scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, California.  The two doctors Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira conclude: “On an annual mean basis, the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world.” They pointed out that wind speeds are on average 70 per cent higher over the Earth’s oceans than over the land. There is a lot more Maths involved than this though, as every time you add a turbine to a wind farm then it puts a cap on the amount of energy from available moving air that can be converted to electricity. The North Atlantic doesn’t show the same effects from this as a lot of energy comes from up high as much as across the ocean.

“We found that giant ocean-based wind farms are able to tap into the energy of the winds throughout much of the atmosphere whereas wind farms onshore remain constrained by the near-surface wind resources,” said Dr Possner.

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Watch some TV to help you understand about a GCSE Component 2 topic

It’s no secret that watching TV or films can be a more entertaining way to learn and revise than reading textbooks or going on to school websites. So here is a good tip for our GCSE Religious Studies students: Cold Feet, currently available on the ITV Hub, has an Episode showing the arguments for Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, and how a young teenage couple choose to have an abortion. It is Episode 3, and you’ve got 15 days left to watch it!

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This TV series is described as being a comedy drama which follows the lives and loves of a group of individuals. It is Series 7 of the drama and has been hugely successful over the last twenty years. In Episode 3 it shows how an unplanned pregnancy sparks a feud which puts a strain on old friendships. The show has been highly praised for how it covers this sensitive storyline: the Huffingtonpost describes how fans have lauded its sensitivity; and the Radio Times said the episode showed the series at its “unflinching best”.

Thank you to Heather in Year 11 for recommending this TV show!

This NHS page tells you all the medical facts about abortion in the UK, whereas the BBC has a great page which explains all the ethical arguments surrounding abortion.

There are 12 different videos about the history of abortion, pro-choice Vs pro-life, and religious arguments on the TrueTube channel.

Finally, if you still want to fin out more, this interesting Independent article shows how around the world women’s rights to abortion vary tremendously.

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Obituary for David Shepherd

Told by Slade School of Art in London that he had no artistic talent didn’t stop David Shepherd from being able to raise more than £8m for wildlife conservation by donating the proceeds from the sales of his painting to charities such as the World Wildlife Fund. Later in his life, in 1984, he set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which campaigned to protect endangered species, and combat poaching and its trade.

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His paintings, whether they be of large animals or huge locomotives, showed the subject facing down the audience, bold and large. In 1970 the BBC made a documentary about him called The Man who Loved Giants.

In 2011 he launched a social media campaign to save the tiger in the wild, TigerTime.

“Man is the most stupid, arrogant and dangerous animal on Earth,” he said. “Every hour we destroy a species to extinction, and unless we start doing something about that very quickly, we are going to self-destruct.”

Reggie Yates spends a week in the most polluted place on the planet

This is where technology goes to die. On BBC Three you can currently watch a documentary where Reggie Yates heads to Ghana in Africa to live on one of the largest electronic waste dumps in the world – Accra’s Agbogbloshie. It is a 53 minute eye opener to life trying to make ends meet, in a place which is killing you from its pollution. 80,000 people live there and most die in their 20s.

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Reggie works with a group of ‘burner boys’, the people grafting at what is considered to be the bottom of the ladder, He discovers first-hand what life is like for the people who just about make a living on the site. The dumping of electronic waste is illegal, and the chemicals in the soil in Agbogbloshie mean it has been described as ‘the most toxic place on earth’.

Since so much of the electronic waste which ends up in Accra’s Agbogbloshie comes from the UK – shouldn’t we take the blame for all these early deaths?

Is the 1967 Abortion Act about to get an overhaul?

In our GCSE Religious Studies classes we learn that in England and Wales women have to prove to a doctor that carrying on with the pregnancy is likely to cause harm to health or wellbeing to get permission for a termination. Without this permission, abortion is a criminal offence. There might be changes coming the way of the Abortion law because doctors at the British Medical Association’s annual conference have just voted to scrap that rule.

At the doctor’s annual conference in Bournemouth they decided to stick with the 24 week limit on abortion, but thought the law making abortion illegal should be changed: the majority of doctors were clear that abortion should be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one. It will be interesting in the coming years whether the doctors are able to influence the politicians into the same mindset. Resisting such thinking is Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, who said “This decision defies common sense and will dismay thousands of ordinary doctors and nurses with their unprecedented decision.”

Turning Rubbish Into Fuel

They are environmental debates which rage on: how should we dispose of our rubbish and how should we create electricity?

The Italian city of Rome is currently sending its rubbish to a waste-to-energy plant near the the Austrian city of Vienna. The rubbish is travelling by train up through Italy and across the Alps through Austria. The special deal came about because the EVN thermal waste utilisation plant in Austria has spare capacity, as in it is not being worked at 100% capacity and needed some extra rubbish. Rome was looking for somewhere to get rid of its rubbish in a greener way which lead to this special deal.

The Science Channel has a short video which explains how rubbish can be turned into energy using the example of trash from New York’s St Patrick’s Day being burnt and turned into electricity.  Going back to those trains of rubbish it may seem counter-intuitive to carry rubbish over 1,000km (620 miles) before disposing of it, but it is part of efforts in the European Union to make cities reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. “It is not crazy,” insists Gernot Alfons, head of the EVN thermal waste plant. For him it is an environmentally friendly solution and the rubbish trains are key. “The other alternative would be to put this rubbish into landfill, which creates a lot of methane emissions that create a lot of impact in terms of CO2 emissions. It is much better to transport this waste to a plant which has a high energy efficiency like ours.”

In Norway they developed another clever use of rubbish landfill sites by collecting the dangerous methane which is emitted from the rubbish and turning it into electricity. Even some British cities sent their rubbish over to Norway to be dealt with in their incinerator plants.

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There are green, environmental issues which should not be forgotten with this energy source: byproducts include bottom ash, which is sorted for metals and then recycled as fill for road construction or other projects, and fly ash, which is toxic and deposited in a landfill certified to handle hazardous materials. Meanwhile air emissions are cleaned through a series of scrubbers and filters and come out “far under what’s actually permitted,” in terms of air quality laws.

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There are so many different ways of protesting or trying to bring about change.

To protest (verb) – express an objection to what someone has said or done

If you decide to go out and protest then you can consider: signage, shouting, sit-ins, petitions, silence, marches, boycotts, putting your body in the way, mock awards, vigils, silliness, singing, praying or flash mobs. There are hundreds of other ideas on non-violent protest and sometimes you can do something specific to the cause you are protesting about.

This is what has recently happened in the Netherlands, where men are showing their support for gay men being able to hold hands and openly express their relationships. Over the weekend in the Dutch city of Arnhem there was a vicious assault of two gay men.  Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes suffered four missing teeth and a severed lip, whereas Jasper Vernes-Sewratan was left with injured ribs. Jasper said they usually hide their relationship, but had decided to hold hands as they walked home after a night out. Dutch politicians as well as celebrities are joining with other Dutch men to show their solidarity to the gay men who were attacked – by holding hands.

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The politician Alexander Pechtold attended a meeting at The Hague with Wooter Koulmees a financial specialist.

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