I’ve always been a sucker for a good time lapse. This one strikes me as a time lapse within a time lapse. It’s half a day, compressed into less than 5 minutes, with people flitting around like moths, posing for pictures with an ice sculpture of the future. Only the time lapse eyes of the camera can see what’s happening. And by the end the passers by probably can’t even tell what the message might have been. But the art is a piece of time lapse too. A century or a millennium compressed into a day of melting. Even that is a stretch for our attention span. Even the 5 minute video seems long and slow. How can we create a society with a more meditative mindset? With an attention span that reflects the extent of our impacts in deep time?
Bruce Sterling has posted a great, almost purple rant entitled The Ecuadorian Library, on Manning, Assange, Snowden, and the future of the surveillance/leak game that’s only now just beginning to be played with modern equipment. The information wants to be free, but the governments of the world will crush your sniveling, naked meatspace body in a cold, hard cell afterward. And yet miraculously there’s more to come. Maybe lots, lots more.
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.
Refining metal ores is one of those things that’s really, really hard to do without emitting a huge amount of greenhouse gasses. The energy sources behind our material economies are not as easily substitutable with renewables, because what they often require is extreme heat, and sometimes the carbon itself (in the case of steelmaking and concrete). Researchers at MIT are looking at a way of directly refining molten iron oxide directly into pure iron electrolytically that results in very pure iron, and virtually no emissions, and it might work for other oxide refining processes as well.
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.
The fossil waters underlying the Great Plains, left over from the Pleistocene, are giving out. We done sucked ’em dry. Any hydrologist could have told you it was in the works. We’ll see the end of fossil ground water pumping in the 21st century, whether we like it or not.
Some lessons from public health for sustainability and climate campaigners. Our choices are largely not our own — context and norms are far more powerful forces for behavioral change than abstract attitudes. Most people just stick with the default settings. We need to change the default settings.
A simple but effective visualization of all the drone strikes in Pakistan, from 2004 to the present. 3100+ people dead, 1.5% of them “high value” targets. More than 75% alleged combatants (males of plausibly military age… 14+ years old) or “other”. 5% children. 17% “civilians”.
A fairly exhaustive accounting of the water embodied in various crop products in a 2011 paper by Mekonnen and Hoekstra. For each kg of rice, 14,000 liters of water. For each kg of beans, 5000 liters of water. Wow.
A piece largely referencing Boulder, talking about cities trying to wrest control of their electricity systems from major utilities. At this point I think I’ll probably find any media coverage of this process hopelessly one dimensional, but still, it’s nice to know they care.