Thursday, June 28, 2007

Long Now Foundation Events

The Long Now Foundation is hosting one of their famous lectures tonight with speaker Frank Fukuyama, "'The End of History Revisited". Fukuyama's geopolitical writing influenced government policy during the 1990's, and tonight he revisits those ideas and examines them in the light of their results. Apparently he has crossed over from the dark side of the neo-cons and has started looking at the political world through a different light.
Come join us and get smarter!
Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, San Francisco, 7pm, TONIGHT, Thursday, June 28. The lecture starts promptly at 7:30pm. Admission is free (a $10 donation is always welcome, not required).

Check out the Long Now Foundation

77 Million Paintings by Brian Eno

This weekend is sensory wizard Brian Eno's show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. If you don't know who Brian Eno is, then this is a great time to get to know this veteran "visual musician". If you know who he is, I need say no more. This installation combines visual art and audio pleasure on a 45 foot projection wall. The event starts at 8 and lasts until the wee hours 2 am and features a full bar, so come party with us!
The show is Friday and Saturday nights for the public, and Sunday night for LNF members. All proceeds will go to my favorite foundation, The folks at Long Now, and will fund projects that foster the future.
The Show at Yerba Buena
The 77 Million Paintings tour details
Check out Eno's Wikipedia page

Order of Magnitude

This link was sent to me by a friend this week, the headline she posted it under was "Madness" and I couldn't agree more. How many cigarettes does it take to hook young teens? How many plastic bottles are used every five minutes in the US? Artist Chris Jordan shows a portrait of America from statistics, and creates visual images that are both beautiful and terrible all at once. His current show is called Running the Numbers- An American Self-Portrait, and will be exhibited at the Von Lintel Gallery in New York from June 14th to the end of July. But you can check it out online if you click on this (LINK).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hans Rosling Makes Statistics Fun

I'm not joking when I say this is the coolest way I've ever seen to create graphics from data. Edward Tufte would be impressed. I know I usually keep my articles focused on environmental issues, but I have to stray this time. Hans Rosling gives a demonstration of his software Gapminder (now owned by Google) using data comparing third world statistics with those of the developed world. Often times the data on regions like Africa are lumped into one group on a visual scale, and Rosling shows that when split into more distinct countries, the similarities become less and less. What this means for the world, he explains, the that the policy for one country in need of aid should be based on the real information, not just generalized ideas about the region.
Not like any power point presentation I've ever seen. I imagine this kind of tool coulld be a great means of providing data for all sorts of projects. See for yourself, the possibilities for this tool are endless.
TED video with Hans Rosling, the world's first statics sports caster.
For the link to check out gapminder data visualization for yourself

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Solutions and Abundance

When I post these articles for everyone to read, my intention is to empower and to send a message of hope. There is too much sadness in the world for those of us who know we're responsible for global warming, too much fear of the future.
I've always been a nature girl, from my very first memories as a child. When I was ten years old I read about the greenhouse effect theory, and it seemed like science fiction. Back then we were in the throes of the Regan Administration, and all the efforts from the previous years to curb pollution, protect endangered species, and save for the future had been thrown out the window in favor of boosting the economy. I didn't know the politics at the time, of course. But I remember there being this sort of stigma against people who wanted to protect the environment. It was the uncool thing to do, even amongst my young classmates.
Now times have changed, and I'm able to count myself among the cool people all of the sudden. My business is so happening it's almost running away with me. People are waking up and realizing that we really have to do something to save the planet, and there is a renewed sense that the natural environment is sacred.
And then they despair. There is so much work we have to do to make that difference, and so many other people out there to convince that everything has to change. We humans are not so good at changing the way we think. We like the latest inventions and the coolest new toys. But the thought of the changes to our environment, like the loss of all the megafauna we love, the polar bears and whales, is heartbreaking.
I hope that my message to you all out there is clear, that we need not despair. Change is always happening, and there will be surprises out there to balance the losses we face. Solutions will come from unexpected places. There is fear we may lose our favorite faces from the arctic, and there may some day be no tigers left in the world. I hope to never see this, and that we can prevent so much loss. But I believe that for every lost creature comes the opportunity for another new one to emerge to takes its place, and some day there will be an explosion of beautiful new organisms we never dreamed possible. When there is too much of something on the planet we call it abundance. Nature flourishes on abundance, and finds a way to use it. It part of the natural checks and balances of the planet. Global warming is, to put it quite simply, an abundance of CO2. It's a matter of time before we figure out how to use this, and we will find an answer. It will take courage and perserverance, but the world will recover.

Melting Icebergs are Party Central for Ocean Life

Icebergs are breaking from Antarctica at an ever increasing rate, and every day there are new images and startling revelations about the loss of habitat for our South Pole flora and fauna. But what happens to the ice when it breaks away and floats to the ocean? Scientists from the Monterey Bay Research Center set out to find out what effect these frozen travellers have on the waters they occupy.
Anecdotal reports suggested an increase in seabird activity around these icebergs, but no one knew just why. It turns out that these melting ice masses are carrying organic and mineral debris stored from millennia, and releasing them into the cold waters off South America. These ocean waters are normally low in essential nutrients, like iron. As the icebergs melt, they act as a timed release fertilizer, increasing ocean life around them, such as algae. Organisms that take particular delight in the new food source are krill, the tiny shrimplike creatures that occupy the bottom of the food chain for marine mammals, even providing a direct source for many whales. When an iceberg breaks off and drifts, it creates a new habitat for opportunists, and increases biodiversity for a distance of up to 2 1/2 miles from the edge of the drift.
Not only is the afterlife of an iceberg spectacular, but this new life in turn is able to absorb enormous amounts of the CO2 that created the melting in the first place, in a sort of feedback loop. "One important consequence of the increased biological productivity is that free-floating icebergs can serve as a route for carbon dioxide drawdown and sequestration of particulate carbon as it sinks into the deep sea," said project leader Kenneth Smith Jr. "While the melting of Antarctic ice shelves is contributing to rising sea levels and other climate change dynamics in complex ways, this additional role of removing carbon from the atmosphere may have implications for global climate models that need to be further studied."
Is this the silver lining? We'll have to find out.
for the article at ENN
for the scoop on Antarctica, including stories abut its natural and human history