From the all-too-rare genre of mathematical-political satire: Using Metadata to find Paul Revere. Highlighting for the uninitiated just how much actual information is really contained in even a wee sliver of the so-called metadata we smear all over the digital universe in our wake. Applied to the Founding Fathers.
An interesting Sankey representation of global GHG emissions, from Ecofys, updated with data from… 2010. Yowza. Would be good if we could get much more timely reporting of this stuff.
A long format talk by Hans Rosling at the Open Knowledge Festival, on the importance of not just liberating public data, but also using it to weave engaging stories for the public about the facts of the world as we know it exists today. It does no good to allow students to debate why women in the Muslim world have more children than elsewhere, because it isn’t true. Sweden still sends foreign aid to China, even though China just bought Volvo. People think that 30% of our power comes from wind and solar, because wind and solar grew 30% last year. Why don’t more activists demand good data? Why don’t they use it to build fact-based cases for their causes, instead of seeking out only the data that confirms their pre-existing ideologies?
Note: Rosling’s talk begins at 35 minutes into the archived video stream.
Hans Rosling, world famous Swedish statistical edutainer, offers some thoughts on the importance of timely and transparent reporting of CO2 emissions. We all know (whether we want to or not) exactly how this thing called GDP is doing, quarter by quarter, but on greenhouse gas emissions, there’s a year long lag.
Lawrence Berkeley National Labs has put out a report on the state of the wind energy industry, as of the end of 2011. I didn’t realize that the price trend had been so uneven over the last decade. The cost of wind power was dropping in the early 2000s, and then rebounded, peaking in 2008/2009 due to shortages in the turbine supply chain, before again dropping in the last year or two. I started looking into these prices because I’m reading a Renewable Energy Policy by Paul Komor (2004) and the prices he quotes ($40-$50/MWh) seem low, relative to the numbers from Xcel’s ERP and the recent bids I saw in Michigan (more like $60/MWh), but the book was written right at the wind price bottom. I’m also shocked at how wide the spread in costs is, even in just the last couple of years. California is paying $100/MWh for huge projects, and in the wind belt some projects are coming in more like $25/MWh. That’s got to be largely policy driven, and it indicates we’ve got a woefully inefficient market for wind.
The human timescale isn’t appropriate for climate change. We can’t see it minute to minute. Day to day. Year to year. Like watching an analog clock, you never see the hands move, and yet time passes. We need more time lapse eyes.
It’s probably not horrifying unless you’re a geoscientist.
Essess is doing drive-by thermal imaging in high density urban areas across the US, hoping to target possible building energy efficiency opportunities. Another company is using urban satellite imagery to choose the best rooftops for solar energy siting. Big Brother may be watching you… but at least occasionally he’s got the right idea.