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Archive By Author - Rudi Kiefer

Earth Sense: Gasoline, however you create it, is a costly fuel

Turn the calendar back to October 1973. Israel was at war with Egypt, and Arab members of OPEC tried to stop the U.S. from supporting Israel by imposing an oil embargo. It caused gas shortages in the U.S. and much of Western Europe. Long lines and "no gas" signs at the pumps were the result over here.

September 15, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Hurricane season is quiet so far

"What's up with the weather?" asked a recent cover page on National Geographic. Once again, nature is not complying with the rules which we scientists are trying to nail down.

September 07, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Oakwood makes effort to save energy

A truck stands idling in front of the café, spewing diesel fumes, while its driver is having lunch inside. That scene from John Steinbeck's novel, "The Grapes of Wrath," won't be playing out with city-owned vehicles in Oakwood. This Hall County community has been making intense efforts toward resource conservation.

September 01, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Remember air’s tendencies to keep house comfy

Going from air conditioning to heating, and back again, is common in North Georgia's changeable weather. The problem with this is the fact that chilled air behaves very differently than heated air.

August 25, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Atlantic subduction could lead to more quakes

Nov. 1, 1755, started out with a fine morning. Bright sunshine and balmy temperatures greeted churchgoers as they prepared to celebrate All Saints Day.

August 18, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Waterspouts can be dangerous when they reach land

Vacationers at the Florida Coast and at the Great Lakes had a good chance to see a waterspout this season. Because of its close resemblance to a tornado, a waterspout can look really frightening. What makes it so distinctly visible is the column of water that's hurled upward by the swirling wind.

August 11, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Blueways, water trails new ways to enjoy nature

An emerging trend across the nation is the designation of "blueways." In spring 2012, the Department of the Interior initiated a system of waterways with boat launch points and camping sites, intended to protect the natural landscape while at the same time allowing for recreational uses such as paddling and kayaking.

August 03, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Wet summer not directly linked to climate shift

Anybody hoping for another dry, parched summer this season must have been disappointed.

July 27, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Floods can result from bad building decisions

Residents of Calgary, Alberta, will be digging out from the mud for weeks to come. Torrential rains resulted in massive flooding that started on June 20. Some areas, including the Saddledome, a popular hockey venue, were submerged to a height of 15 feet.

July 07, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Railway travel offers beautiful scenery

Railroads are an excellent means for experiencing the scenic beauty of mountain regions. Suitable for an afternoon excursion, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is within two hours' drive from Gainesville. Board the train in Bryson City, N.C., for a trip deep down into Nantahala Gorge.

June 30, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Mammatus clouds and hail are signs of severe weather

Among the video footage of the Moore, Okla., tornado of May 20 available online now, some scenes shot while the twisters were touching down are disturbing. You see cars on the road and traffic patterns that look quite normal, except for the huge funnel approaching in the background.

June 23, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Proper drainage can prevent basement leaks

Boats leak from the bottom. But a house can leak from the top or the bottom.

June 15, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: North Georgia's summer pattern can vary

North Georgia's summer climate is often called "hot and humid." But that's not really accurate. There are times when it's warm and humid, and other times when it's hot and dry.

June 09, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: 9 students lost in tornado is too many

Among reports of the massive destruction that the May 20 tornado unleashed on the towns of Newcastle and Moore, Okla., some stories stand out as a message of encouragement. With a reported width of up to 2 miles, the massive twister destroyed two elementary schools. Nine children died at Plaza Towers Elementary.

June 01, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Train travel is a cleaner and safer option

May 17 was a day of odd contrasts. At Cornelia's beautiful old railroad station, three train enthusiasts were standing next to the track with top-quality cameras, waiting to take photos of the approaching northbound Norfolk Southern. The familiar mustang logo on the lead engine rolled by, followed by additional locomotives and a very long chain of flatbed cars carrying containers.

May 26, 2013 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

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Articles By Author - Rudi Kiefer

Earth Sense: When unexpected heavy rains occur, move to higher ground

Superstorm Sandy, which covered the East Coast with floodwaters from Florida to Maine in 2012, is still a household name. But memories of Sandy were overshadowed by the torrential rains that hit Baltimore, Long Island and Connecticut on Aug. 12.

August 24, 2014 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists

Earth Sense: Extension cords can lead to shocks, wiring-induced fires

The word "fire" strikes fear in homeowners. Rightfully so: Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 7, 1,513 people in the U.S. died in house fires, including 57 Georgia residents (

August 17, 2014 | Rudi Kiefer | Columnists


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