Tag Archives: video

Community resilience after an earthquake

Disasters have complex effects on communities. Love in a Little Town is short film about community resilience made by James Muir. He writes:

Lyttelton is the port for Christchurch City, New Zealand, that was devastated by an earthquake in February this year. In this time of great loss, Lyttelton and its community stood out as being resilient, organised and sustainable. It already had the community connections, timebanking, resource sharing and a cooperative arts community. ”

Love in a Little Town from James Muir on Vimeo.

via Rob Hopkins on the Transition Towns weblog.

Evoking Climate Change’s Systemic Risks

Stephen Thomson of Plonomedia.com remixed 350.org climate activist Bill McKibben‘s popular sarcastic recent Washington Post op-ed “A link between climate change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!” into a video that is more gripping than the article.

McKibben is being sarcastic for a reason, for as a recent Media Matters report showed that while a majority of the public supports regulation of greenhouse gases the media over represents anti-regulation groups:

Media Matters examined TV news coverage that included elected officials, members of advocacy groups, business leaders, pundits, and others discussing EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. Of these appearances, 152 out of 199 — over 76% — opposed regulation. The three outlets that hosted the greatest number of guests, Fox News (FNC), Fox Business (FBN), and CNBC, all featured opponents of GHG regulation at least four times more often than supporters.

Links: ECloud, wikipedia, housing bubble, Vaclav Smil, CO2, and ice

Recent links that I liked.

1) Video of ECloud sculpture at San Jose airport.

2) Academics working with wikipedia from Chronicle of Higher Education.

3) Interactive graph of Case-Schiller house price index for 20 cities in USA, showing the continued deflation of the housing bubble from New York Times.

4) Andrew Revkin has an hourlong interview with Vaclav Smil about global sustainability on TV O.

5) Canada emits 3 times the CO2 per person as does Sweden.  Sweden has slightly lower emissions per person than China.  A visualization allows you to see global data and trends.

6) Mapping land ice loss in the Canadian arctic from NASA.

7) Mapping groundwater depletion with satellites from New York Times.

Bicycles and the city

Many cities are investing in bicycle infrastructure such as expanded bike lanes or subsidized bicycle sharing programs, and this is increasing bicycle traffic. InfraNet Lab blog writes that in Montreal and New York City ridership has increase about 30% since 2008. London has more than doubled since 2000. London’s new large capacity bike lanes have lead to a 70% increase in cycle traffic into the city reports UK’s Bikehub in one year.

This big city provides a list of a few example cities, and Streetfilms, which is a NGO that creates short films on how transportation policy can improve city life,  has a number of films on urban bicycling and bicycle infrastructure.  For example,


Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

There is lots of discussion over how to do incorporate bicycles in cities is intense and diverse. For example,

1) James Schwartz argues that it is good for urban businesses.

2) Canadian sustainability write Chris Turner on bike lanes (parts 1, 2, and 3)

3) Evan Osnos in his New York blog post Bicycle lanes of Beijing compares the history of bike lines in Beijing with recent debates over bike lanes in new york

But an article on Sustainable Cities Collective by Kasey Klimes The Real Reason Why Bicycles are the Key to Better Cities argues that urban cycling is important, not just because it’s healthier, uses less energy and pollutes less than other transport, but that they provide a means for becoming engaged in city life. Klimes writes:

Invite a motorist for a bike ride through your city and you’ll be cycling with an urbanist by the end of the day. Even the most eloquent of lectures about livable cities and sustainable design can’t compete with the experience from atop a bicycle saddle.

“These cars are going way too fast,” they may mutter beneath their breath.

“How are we supposed to get across the highway?”

“Wow, look at that cathedral! I didn’t know that was there.”

“I didn’t realize there were so many vacant lots in this part of town.”

“Hey, let’s stop at this cafe for a drink.”

Suddenly livability isn’t an abstract concept, it’s an experience. Human scale, connectivity, land use efficiency, urban fabric, complete streets… all the codewords, catchphrases, and academic jargon can be tossed out the window because now they are one synthesized moment of appreciation. Bicycles matter because they are a catalyst of understanding – become hooked on the thrill of cycling, and everything else follows. Now a new freeway isn’t a convenience but an impediment. Mixed-use development isn’t a threat to privacy but an opportunity for community. And maybe, just maybe, car-free living will eventually be seen not as restrictive, but as a door to newfound freedom.

The real reason why bicycles are the key to better cities?

Some might call it enlightenment.

And BBC reports on research that suggests that cyclists are happier people.

Hopefully the indirect consequences of this regrowth of urban cycling will be positive. I know I’ll be looking at the city differently on my bike to work.

Is a Good Anthropocene Possible?

Will Steffen and I gave contrasting talks in a Mock Court on the meaning of the Anthropocene at the 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability in Stockholm.  The talks are now online, along with other talks from the symposium (I recommend Frances Westley‘s on innovation).

Will and I were arguing about four charges (defined by the Symposium organizers):

  1. Humanity has pushed the Earth out of the Holocene epoch.
  2. Humanity is at risk of pushing the planet across catastrophic tipping points.
  3. Incrementality is dead as a strategy for human development in an era of rapid global change
  4. Humanity can prosper, in the Anthropocene, within the safe operating space of planetary boundaries (within the intrinsic boundaries of the Earth System).

I accepted Will’s case on the first, but argued against 2&3 and for 4.  The jury of Nobel Laureate ruled.

  1. Humanity has pushed the Earth out of the Holocene epoch. Yes
  2. Humanity is at risk of pushing the planet across catastrophic tipping points. Lack of evidence.  The key sticking point here was the word “catastrophic”.
  3. Incrementality is dead as a strategy for human development in an era of rapid global change.  No
  4. Humanity can prosper, in the Anthropocene, within the safe operating space of planetary boundaries (within the intrinsic boundaries of the Earth System). Yes (But the key word is can – there is no guarantee humanity will.)

Resilience 2011 slides and videos

Slides and videos for keynote and invited speaker presentations at Resilience 2011 are now available online.

Video:

Slides:

I didn’t see all of these talks, but those that I did see were good. I particularly recommend Bill Clark, Elinor Ostrom, Carlo Jaegar, and Marten Scheffer’s talks.

Steve Carpenter wins Stockholm Water Prize

Big congratulations to my former post-doc advisor Steve Carpenter on winning the 2011  Stockholm Water Prize.  It is well deserved as Steve has done a huge amount of really innovative work on ecosystem dynamics, ecological economics, large scale ecosystem experiments,  and environmental management.

The prize citation writes:

Professor Carpenter’s groundbreaking research has shown how lake ecosystems are affected by the surrounding landscape and by human activities. His findings have formed the basis for concrete solutions on how to manage lakes.

Professor Carpenter, 59, is recognised as one of the world’s most influential environmental scientists in the field of ecology. By combining theoretical models and large-scale lake experiments he has reframed our understanding of freshwater environments and how lake ecosystems are impacted by humans and the surrounding landscape.

The Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee emphasises the importance of Professor Carpenter’s contributions in helping us understand how we affect lakes through nutrient loading, fishing, and introduction of exotic species.

“Professor Carpenter has shown outstanding leadership in setting the ecological research agenda, integrating it into a socio-ecological context, and in providing guidance for the management of aquatic resources,” noted the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee.

The Stockholm Water Prize is a global award founded in 1991 and presented annually by the Stockholm International Water Institute to an individual, organisation or institution for outstanding water-related activities. The Stockholm Water Prize Laureate receives USD 150,000 and a crystal sculpture specially designed and created by Orrefors.

H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who is the patron of the Prize, will formally present Professor Carpenter with the 2011 Stockholm Water Prize at a Royal Award Ceremony in Stockholm City Hall on August 25 during the 2011 World Water Week in Stockholm.

SIWI, who gives the water prize have also posted an interview with Steve about his work on trophic cascades and resilience:

Steven Johnson on the source of good ideas

Two short videos by science writer Steven Johnson on his book Where good ideas come from: the natural history of innovation.

An animated promotional video for his book:

And him giving a TED talk.

Steve Johnson has posted some of the responses to his ideas on his blog.

I haven’t read the book, but complex systems scientist Cosma Shalizi has a rich review that addresses many of the books strengths and weaknesses.  He introduces the book as:

This is 100-proof American evolutionist, naturalistic liberalism, which is to say, Pragmatism. It is a celebration of the virtues of openness, experimentation (including failed experiments), giving “slow hunches” chances to develop, to serendipitously blending ideas from diverse intellectual backgrounds and disciplines, and the continuity of human culture and thought with processes in the natural world. It’s a view of the social life of the mind, illustrated by engagingly-told anecdotes from the history of science and technology; apt references to a wide range of scholarly studies; long, admiring quotations from Darwin; the natural history of coral reefs and the evolution of sexual reproduction. (The broader history of culture, especially the fine arts, is occasionally alluded to, and there are abundantly merited plugs for his old teacher Franco Moretti’s studies on the evolution of genres and “distant reading”; but mostly it’s a science-and-technology book.) Johnson has painted a crowd scene: good ideas hardly ever come from isolated individuals thinking very hard and having flashes of inspiration; they come from people who are immersed in communities of inquiry, and especially from those who bridge multiple communities. The picture is an attractive one, which I actually think (or perhaps “fervently pray”) has a lot of truth to it.

Resilience and Regime Shift videos

Kit Hill a Masters student at the Stockholm Resilience Centre made the three short videos below to introduce the concept of resilience and the idea of a regime shift.

Resilience from Kit Hill on Vimeo.

Beating Down Resilience from Kit Hill on Vimeo.

Regime Shift from Kit Hill on Vimeo.

This video was made in order to help people understand the concept of a Social Ecological Regime Shift.

Kit’s efforts are part of a larger project to create a set of communication and teaching resources that can be used to communicate different aspects of resilience thinking.

For more information on resilience see:
the resilience alliance,
Stockholm Resilience Centre, Brian Walker and David Salt’s book Resilience Thinking, or collection of resilience papers on Mendeley.