Oct 20, 14

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Peak Oil and the Curse of Cassandra

I'm getting a shiver of deja vu these days when I read the peak oil-related websites. Some are boggling over the fact that "global warming" got more attention than "peak oil" in the discussions over the recently-passed Energy Bill in the US, while others are simply furious that the American public (and these websites seem predominantly American in focus) isn't taking peak oil sufficiently seriously. They're particularly bothered that mainstream discussion of the idea, when it happens, often...


In Bloom

Phytoplankton play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle, and both climate disruption and natural climate cycles (e.g., El Niño/La Niña) affect the size of plankton blooms and the corresponding CO2 consumption. We've talked most often about phytoplankton in the southern oceans, but it's important to remember that plankton blooms can happen throughout the world's seas. It's also important to note that these blooms can be staggeringly beautiful to see. The European Space...


Green GDP

Environmentalists often harbor real skepticism about the "Gross Domestic Product" as a measure of economic health; after all, the GDP doesn't measure clean air or water, and both pollution resulting from industrial and commercial activity and cleanup of that pollution get counted. But what are the alternatives? Gernot Wagner of Environmental Economics ventures to describe some of the alternatives from the perspective of an environmentally-focused economist. The short version: all of the...

cities

Waterbot and Feedback-Triggered Change

We talk incessantly about "making the invisible visible," a Viridian-derived principle arguing that making people aware of various environmental conditions or choices that normally remain hidden allows for better decision-making, almost invariably in the direction of better use, efficiency and conservation. Typically, energy use is the target application of the principle, and it's easy to see why: aside from a single bill totaling up monthly consumption (or, for some people, quarterly...

cities

The Week in Sustainable Vehicles (07/31/05)

Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news, looking at the ongoing evolution of personal transportation. Take it away, Mike: The House and Senate this week quickly passed the conference version of the energy bill, sending it on to the White House for signature. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is a plump 1,724 pages of policy, programs, and pork -- as well as showing the occasional hint or glimmer of a shift in focus and attitude....


Tsunami rebuilding update

Another month goes by and work continues. There is a general feeling in the air that the reconstruction phase is now fully underway. For the past 7 months there has been a revolving door of government officials and rule changes but things are beginning to calm down. Fundraising has begun to slow to a trickle which is actually good as we can focus more of our time on projects and less on administration. We currently have six tsunami related projects underway, more details of each project can...


Ludology, Narratology, and Simulations as Paradigm

I trust that's a sufficiently academic-sounding title. There's a surprising abundance of theory connected to game design. Since games generally combine both a regular system of event resolution and a progression of events leading towards a goal, academics focusing on both games as systems -- "ludology" -- and academics focusing on games as stories -- "narratology" -- can have a field day. As in any arena where there are multiple competing perspectives on how to understand a process, there is...


War Between Democracies in the 21st Century

It's a truism that democracies tend not to go to war with each other. And it's hard to imagine what sorts of conditions would lead to two long-standing democracies with relatively pacific characters to come to blows. But Denmark and Canada are in a dispute over territory, a dispute that is taking an ominous turn. Hans Island, a half-mile square rock roughly midway between Canada and Greenland, is claimed by both nations; a recent visit to the island by the Canadian Defense Minister triggered...

cities

Leapfrogging in Reverse

We talk incessantly here about leapfrogging, but always in a one-directional way: devices and ideas go from the industrialized world to the nonindustrialized world, and let the latter skip ahead to better lives. But the learning isn't always unidirectional--sometimes the innovations go from the nonindustrial to the industrial. For instance...


Cory Doctorow: The WorldChanging Interview

The World Intellectual Property Organization is one of those incredibly important international bodies of which most of us have never heard. Cory Doctorow, besides being a bull goose blogger and science fiction writer, is one of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's key activists, trying to get WIPO to become more responsive to the needs of average citizens, especially in the developing world. Here Cory talks about intellectual property and development, but the stories he tells, I think,...

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