Nov 30, 15

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Katrina update

NASA satellite photos show the New Orleans flood (with a "before" shot for comparison). The disaster just gets worse - a minute ago CNN was reporting a fire in the French Quarter, and there's "a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and still no clear sense of the death toll, though the mayor of New Orleans speculates that thousands may be dead. [Link] The most pressing concern now is the potential for diseases to spread via stagnant water and unsanitary conditions. MSNBC quotes...


As much a novelty as a data source, Worldometers uses statistical averages and your computer's clock to calculate a variety of figures about human beings and the planet we live on. These are basic javascripts (meaning that, if you really want to have a self-incrementing world population meter on your site, the code is right there), and should work on any standards-compliant browser. The site reports some problems with KHTML browsers like Safari, but it seemed to work fine for me... (Via...



One of the results of the December tsunami was increased interest in the development of integrated systems for monitoring the Indian Ocean. It's likely that Katrina, too, will lead to greater attention to our ability to keep tabs on the ocean environment. A key difference, however, is that there are already numerous sensors and monitors in place around North America, unlike the pre-tsunami Indian Ocean; the focus probably won't be so much on putting more sensors in place as on making better...

Disaster Mini-Institute Boot Camps

While we are sure to come up with innovative approaches to adapation and mitigation to climate disruption, perhaps part of climate foresight also includes getting a better handle on how the "average person" can help others in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. And as far as Hurricane Katrina's concerned, that time is now. For those who've got the time, the ability, and a desire to help out in the Katrina disaster zone in the first person, the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Red Cross...


Patrick di Justo: Climate Consensus

Patrick di Justo is a New York-based science journalist. He is a contributing editor at Wired, a writer for Scientific American, Popular Science, the New York Times, and has a weekly radio segment about future science on public radio in New York. A new study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography is billed as the first real-world test of global warming climate models. It manages to be both discouraging and very enlightening about our current state of understanding of the...

Alex in Grist, Part 2

The second part of Dave Roberts' interview with Alex Steffen for Grist is up today (we linked to Part One here). This one focuses on issues of sustainable urban and rural development. Alex: One of the places we've failed the worst is providing a vision of the rural future. [...] We need to do is start imagining what a high-tech, prosperous, 21st century rural life would look like. We can't allow ourselves to treat people in rural America the way environmentalists have sometimes been guilty...


Foresight in the Age of the Storm

In the age of climate disruption, clear-eyed foresight is a necessity -- but hurricane Katrina was a reminder that foresight means more than imagining the worst and preparing for it. Katrina came as a surprise to few of its victims. The storm, which had been just a Category 1 when it crossed Florida, grew stronger over the warm ocean as it drew towards the Gulf Coast; in the age of real time satellites and doppler radar, residents of the region had ample warning that danger was coming. Nor...


The so-called "female condom," which never quite took off in the US and Europe, is becoming a key tool in the fight against AIDS in the developing world. The somewhat tricky insertion process, the feel of it, and the noise -- all of which were negatives to Western users -- have turned out to be wildly appealing in numerous markets. Over 10 million female condoms have been sold in the developing world since the late 1990s. The Guardian has the details (and discusses the use of the female...


Katrina and the Levees

Check out "After Centuries of 'Controlling' Land, Gulf Learns Who's the Boss," a thorough, readable, straight talking, and slightly arch article in today's New York Times on the suite of environmental factors that have contributed to Katrina's enormously devatating impact on the Gulf Coast. Reporters Cornelia Dean and Andrew C. Revkin chart development and depletion of coastal ecologies in the region since the 18th century, "when French colonial administrators required land claimants to...


Blobject On Tour

Blobject is a Spanish company that exists in the intersection of several very worldchanging ideas: the use of electric micro-cars for in-town mobility; the use of free/libre/open-source software as a cornerstone of information technology; and the use of location-aware systems for deepening one's understanding of urban spaces. That the company name was inspired by a Bruce Sterling speech is just a wonderful extra. Blobject operates in Córdoba, Spain (and soon in Seville), renting small...

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