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Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage (New York Review Books Classics) by Tim Robinson">Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage (New York Review Books Classics) by Tim Robinson
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Irish Tsunami: Myths and Dangers to Aran?

aranisland-doolin.jpegHat tip to:
DICK AHLSTROM Irish Times Science Editor

IT HAS happened before - and it could happen again. Ireland's coastline could be struck by a huge tsunami triggered by any one of a number of events.

"Yes we do have the potential for a tsunami because we have been hit in the past," said Prof Mike Williams of NUI Galway.

Don't start counting down the days just yet, he cautions. It will take a large earthquake, underwater landslide or even an asteroid striking the Atlantic before we see the next big one.

Prof Williams will deliver a talk, Irish Tsunami - Myths and Dangers this evening at the Institute of Technology, Sligo, an event planned as part of Science Week.

He became interested in Irish tsunami events when trying to sort out why so many huge boulders lie perched atop cliffs on our coasts and in places like the Aran Islands.

Clearly they had been tossed there by tsunami or storms. After extensive research he decided on an answer. Some were tossed out of the sea in 1839 on the so called "Night of the Big Wind", he said.

More spectacularly, a massive earthquake in the Gulf of Cadiz off Portugal on November 1st, 1755, kicked up a huge wave that pushed into the Atlantic. It rushed up Galway Bay to carry away people and knock down part of the Spanish Arch. The "Lisbon earthquake" had unexpected consequences, Prof Williams said. "It persuaded the king of Portugal to live in a tent for the rest of his life."

A repeat represents the most likely cause of a tsunami today, Prof Williams said, but would be impossible to predict.

Al's Big Plan

our_choice_463_2.jpgAl Gore's new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, is not just a broad overview of the key strategies for preserving a livable climate -- it's also a truly beautiful book, replete with lush photos and simple but powerful charts. In it Big Al spells out the work ahead that An Inconvenient Truth left us a-hankering for. Also, check out the smartest and crankiest responses to the new book.
Read more at Grist
SAMSO JOURNAL, (It could be Inis meain)

By JOHN TAGLIABUE of The New York Times

SAMSO, Denmark -- The people of this Danish island have seen the future, and it is dim and smells vaguely of straw.

With no traffic lights on the island and few street lights, driving its roads on a cloudless night is like piercing a black cloud. There is one movie theater, few cars and even fewer buses, except for summer, when thousands of tourists multiply the population.

Yet last year, Samso (pronounced SOME-suh) completed a 10-year experiment to see whether it could become energy self-sufficient. The islanders, with generous amounts of aid from mainland Denmark, busily set themselves about erecting wind turbines, installing nonpolluting straw-burning furnaces to heat their sturdy brick houses and placing panels here and there to create electricity from the island's sparse sunshine.

By their own accounts, the islanders have met the goal. For energy experts, the crucial measurement is called energy density, or the amount of energy produced per unit of area, and it should be at least 2 watts for every square meter, or 11 square feet. "We just met it," said Soren Hermansen, the director of the local Energy Academy, a former farmer who is a consultant to the islanders.

In December, when the United Nations-sponsored summit meeting on climate change convenes in Denmark, many of the delegates will be swept out to visit Samso. They will see its successes, but also how high the hurdles are for exporting the model from this little island, a hilly expanse roughly the size of the Bronx.

On a recent visit, Mr. Hermansen recounted, the Egyptian ambassador to Denmark admired all the energy-creating devices the islanders had installed, then asked how many people lived here. When he was told about 4,000, he replied with exasperation, "That's three city blocks in Cairo!" Undaunted, Mr. Hermansen told him, "That's maybe where you should start, not all of Egypt, take one block at a time."

Jorgen Tranberg, 55, agreed. "If there were no straw, we'd have no fuel, but we have straw," he said, sipping coffee on the 250-acre dairy farm where he milks 150 Holsteins. "Everywhere is different," he said. "Norway has waterfalls, we have wind. The cheapest is oil and coal, that's clear." The farmers, he said, used to burn the straw on their fields, polluting the air. Now, they use it to heat their homes.

Counting only the wind turbines on the island, but not those that the islanders have parked offshore in the Kattegat Strait, the island produces just enough electricity for its needs. (With the offshore turbines it can even export some.) However, its heating plants, burning wheat and rye straw grown by its farmers, cover only about 75 percent of the island's heating needs, continuing its reliance on imported oil and gas.

The islanders have been inventive. Mr. Tranberg uses a special pump to extract the heat from his cows' milk, then uses the warmth to heat his house. He has even invested in wind turbines. He purchased one outright for $1.2 million, with a bank loan; it now stands in a row of five just behind his brick farmhouse. He later bought a 50 percent stake in another turbine.

But all that spins is not gold, he soon found out. When a gearbox burned out in one mill three years ago, the repair cost more than $150,000. He did not say how much he makes from selling the electricity.

Energy experts emphasize that it is crucial for the islanders to squeeze energy out of their island without relying heavily on sea-based turbines. Not every region of the world is blessed with an expanse of thousands of miles of ocean at its doorstep.

Please read the full story here

Dramatic erosion at Rossbeigh beach

ANNE LUCEY (The Irish Times)

TIME AND tide have caused further dramatic erosion at Rossbeigh beach in Co Kerry where the sea has broken through to create an island of the outer tip of the sand spit.

Well known for bathing, horse-riding, surfing and fishing, Rossbeigh beach is something of a sister to Inch Strand, which reaches out from the opposite northern side of Dingle Bay. Inch was made famous internationally in the film Ryan's Daughter.
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The Investigators - 'Climate Change' Airs On RTÉ

Shot and directed by Ciarán O'Connor and voiced by Doireann Ni Briain this is a look into the work of some of the top scientific minds in the country on climate change.

Series 2 of 'The Investigators' is comprised of 6 x 30 min factual episodes for RTÉ One. As with Series One, it is a non-studio based factually informative show aimed at the general viewer. International in scope it will focus specifically on Ireland's scientific contribution to the world.

Each week will focus on a specific area of life on which the Investigators are concentrating. The subjects are: Ireland in Space, Ageing, Sensors, Climate Change, Crops of the Future and the Nano Revolution.

This weeks programme 'Climate Change' will focus on the techniques used to represent the physical drivers of climate change as used by the UCD Meteorology and Climate Centre and the Irish Centre for High End Computing, with researchers are looking at Ireland's relationship with the sun and the seas and what the possible results of existing climate change may bring. Viewers will also see the work of glaciologists Paul Dunlop and Sara Benetti who are carrying out investigations into clues left by Ireland's last ice age that may yield clues as to what will happen when the last two remaining ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica) melt. The programme follow them as they head out to the far shores of Irish waters and drop a drilling core into the sea bed to take samples and analyse the results.

Director and DOP of 'Climate Change' and rest of the series is Ciaran O'Connor while Nuala Cunnigham is series producer. The series was shot from July - November of this year. Filming locations for 'Climate Change' included Dublin, Clonmel, Galway, Coleraine and Reading. Locations for rest of series include: Cork, Carlow, Wicklow, Madrid and Oxford.