Sunday, 27 November 2011

Good news? Or just more confusion and a further step into the grey area...

In the news today, covered by both the Economist and the New Scientist is the news that the climate is less sensitive to carbon dioxide than previously thought - this seems a good thing; of course it does in principle. This means that the IPCC's last estimate of climate sensitivity (which measures the amount of warming that can eventually be expected to follow a doubling in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide) is now being revised to 1.7 to 2.6 degrees as opposed to 2.6 degrees. No doubt though, this could either be a blip or will be heavily contested but it provides healthy debate which is ultimately the purpose of science.

Check out the more in-depth articles here:


I have been enjoying the way data is now presented - the internet has revolutionized the way data is both presented and interpreted; from Hans Rosling's Gapminder to world mapper to one of my favourite sites - information is beautiful! Check out the way devastation is represented in the context of the recent Thai floods - really makes you think....

Click here to get to the website link

Click here to go to world mapper

Migration between US states...

Americans are enormously mobile: 37.5 million people moved from one house to another last year, with 4.3 million of them moving between states. This mobility makes us efficient seekers of economic improvement—moving into, and then leaving, cities likePhoenix as their fortunes rise and fall.

Click here for the interactive version!

Time lapse of the sky - one or cloud lovers

Ken Murphy installed a camera on top of the Exploratorium in San Francisco and set it to take a picture every ten seconds for a year. A History of the Sky is those pictures as a series of time-lapse movies where each day is represented with a grid. So what you see 360 skies at once:

For further details:

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Kenya's Masai and the Impact of Climate Change

Kenya's Masai traditions threatened by climate change

Masai living in Kojiado district, near the Tanzanian border, are finding traditional cattle herding harder because the weather is getting hotter and the rain more unpredictable. Pasture is becoming harder to find, so many are diversifying to grow crops as well or turning to farming full-time. They are also working with traditional farmers to ensure that both lifestyles can share the resources available without encroaching on each other's survival. Sending children to school is also becoming a priority so that they are better equipped for their changing world.
What a fantastic picture that embraces the Technological Fix!

Life in a day...

Thank you Google for posting this fascinating film which follows a life in the day of people from across the world...arguably even better than the BBC's Frozen Planet series....

Migration: The magic of diasporas

Immigrant networks are a rare bright spark in the world economy. Rich countries should welcome them...

Click here to read this fascinating article about how globalisation has enabled diaspora groups to be a new economic driving force in rich countries. 

Climate gate part 2

Once again, the debate has been rekindled as hackers have leaked snippets of emails from climate scientists once more.  Despite the breach in privacy and the obvious distortion, to some extent, of the context and purpose of statements, i do feel climate scientists should be more transparent and open - to some extent they should do more to actively and publicly practice what they preach and do more to reduce their carbon footprint!

See links below to form your own opinion:

Other errors from the IPCC this time:

Is aid distributed to those who need it most?

Water aid recently released a report which highlighted the paucity of many nation's efforts, including our own, to achieve the MDGs by 2015 - one of the points was that development aid was unequally distributed (almost a development gap within a development gap - and those that needed the most basic needs like access to clean water were being left out).

Look at this graph from gap minder.

There are plenty of questions here to ponder over such as...
 - Is aid the solution to the development gap for the bottom billion & world's most vulnerable?
 - If it is, how do organisations like Water Aid hope to re-address the balance?

The links below are a starting point for further studies:

Climatic Fluctuations, Drought, and Flow in the Colorado River Basin

A great overview of a potential 'super' case study from the USGS - water conflicts and climate change...

The world at 1 billion!

On the last day of the 31st October the UN calculated that the world population would reach 7 billion. With calls ranging from "the world cannot sustain this level of growth; the problem is not the growth, the problem is that areas lack development; to wherever you go in Africa you can buy coca-cola but not a condom" it clearly is a hotly debated topic. Did Malthus ever think it would get to this number, and if so, so soon?

Arguably family planning is the way forward if the world population, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa is to slow down, but the level of family planning is determined by it's geography i.e. one factor could be the influence of the Catholic Church in place A but in place B it could be a lack of available contraceptives.

Top links:

Tianjin Eco-City In China: The Future Of Urban Development?

One of the green movement's major coup's must be the the eco-city. Branded often as green cities and environmentally friendly it is no surprise that China has cottoned onto this concept with it's design & plan for, of course, the ultimate eco-city  - Tianjin.


To what extent are eco-cities a model for future urban growth? 
Are they sustainable? If so how?
And is this a concept which could catch on elsewhere?

Further links:

Are Bio fuels the best way to keep cars on the road

Rising petrol prices and concerns about global warming are forcing the demand for alternatives like bio fuels.
However, critics argue that is it ethical to grow crops for fuel when crops could be grown for food?

With millions invested in the growth of green fuel by large TNCs is it too big an unknown gamble?

Further links: