Category Archives: Links

Links: R, Thai floods, Mongolian Herders, Oberlin, and Ashby

1) A set of ‘cheat sheets’ for programming various things in R – data mining, multiple regression, time series analysis, etc.

2) From AlertNet Thailand needs long term strategy to deal with floods.

3)  From Solutions magazine Mongolian herders practice adaptive co-management

4) Environmental studies professor David Orr leads an attempt to transform Oberlin, Ohio into a national leader in sustainability – in a way similar to transition town movement.

5) W. Ross Ashby digital archive. An online archive of influential systems thinker’s work.  Lots of stuff.  For example, here are his notes on his homeostat.

6) In 2009 The International Journal of General Systems, 38(2), featured a special issue about “The Intellectual Legacy of W. Ross Ashby.” Unfortunately only the introduction is open access.

7) The Institute on the Environment (IonE) is searching for 4 world-class postdoctoral scientists to join the Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI), which is focused on understanding global-scale changes in land use, agriculture, food security, and the environment. For full info see: PostDoc Scientists.

7 Billion

1) Guardian visualizes world population growth estimates from UN. Nice comparison of similar countries, but results for Africa don’t look right 314 million people in Tanzania in 2100? 140 million people in Niger in 2100? A ten fold increase in its current population density?

2) From BBC – how much has the world population grown since your birth? Since mine, its doubled.

3) National Geographic on 7 Billion

4) and from Nature news

Because high fertility is linked with poverty, the big worry globally is the 3.4 billion people who survive on less than US$2 per day, says Joel Cohen, who heads the Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University in New York. The average number of children per woman in the least developed countries is 4.5, compared with 1.7 for developed countries, Cohen says, and this means that most of the additions to the global count are born where there is little access to energy and education, further fuelling the population steamroller. This reality underscores the importance of international development efforts: small increases in wealth and education can lower fertility and dramatically ease the burden of population growth decades down the road.

5) And population data from the UN Population Divsion.

Links: Melting glaciers, floods, and species responses to climate change

1) BBC News – Rivers of ice: Vanishing glaciers.- David Breashears retraced the steps of early photographic pioneers such as Major E O Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella – to try to re-take their views of breathtaking glacial vistas.

2) Thai water management experts are blaming human activity.for turning an unusually heavy monsoon season into a disaster. NYTimes writes:

The main factors, they say, are deforestation, overbuilding in catchment areas, the damming and diversion of natural waterways, urban sprawl, and the filling-in of canals, combined with bad planning. Warnings to the authorities, they say, have been in vain

3) Chen et al’s conducted a metanalysis of published species response to ongoing climate change and found 2-3X faster movement than previous studies.  Their paper in Science – Rapid Range Shifts of Species Associated with High Levels of Climate Warming (DOI: 10.1126/science.1206432) estimated median rates of species movement were 11m gain in elevation/ decade and poleward movement of 17 km/ decade. They conclude:

average rates of latitudinal distribution change match those expected on the basis of average temperature change, but that variation is so great within taxonomic groups that more detailed physiological, ecological and environmental data are required to provide specific prognoses for individual species.

Links – reviews

1. Cosma Shalizi discusses recent paper in nature on networks and their controlability, and responses to it.

2. Tom Slee reviews network sociologist Ducan Watts – everything is obvious if you already know the answer.

3. Misha Glenny, author of McMafia, reviews Federico Varese’s new book Mafias on the Move: How Organised Crime Conquers New Territories in London Review of Books.

4.  And not a review of a book, but a model.  Chemist Ugo Bardi has written a book Limits to Growth revisited that reviews the 1973 Limits to Growth study, its critics, its misrepresentation, and its continued relevance.

Links: death threats, uprisings, social memory, nature, and LIDAR

1) From Nature News, death threats are being sent to Australian climate scientists, including our Stockholm Resilience Centre colleague Will Steffen.  More information from Australia’s ABC news 1 & 2.

2) How well are researchers able to forecast popular uprisings? Some reflections from political scientist Jay Ulfelder.

3) Economists argue that the long-gone Habsburg Empire is still visible in Eastern European bureaucracies today on

4) Novelist TC Boyle, recommends five books on people and nature.  He recently wrote a good novel, When the Killings Done, on the control of invasive species in California.

5) Also from Nature News, Greg Asner and colleagues have developed a digital catalogue of the chemical and optical properties of some 4,700 plant species in different conditions. By using this information to analyze high resolution LIDAR images from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, Asner hopes that they will be able to identify the species of individual trees.

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.

Links: writing, activism, First Nations, Arctic, immigration, and walking

A selection of links I found interesting from around the web

1)  How to write about your science from SciDev.Net

2) Rob Hopkins from Transition Towns writes about the tension between creating change and activism in Transition and activism: a response on Transition Culture.

3) How the distant and dispersed people of Canada’s First Nations are using Facebook from Vancouver’s the Tyee.

4) How climate change will increase coastal accessibility but decrease accessibility to the interior of the Arctic by cutting ice roads.  Toronto Globe and Mail reports on new research in Nature Climate Change (doi:10.1038/nclimate1120).

5) Why more immigration means less crime.  The Walrus reports on how immigration lowers crime rates in Canadian communities in an article Arrival of the Fittest.

6) The Globe and Mail reports on how in Toronto carless recent immigrants are producing a more walkable environment.

Short links: ecopyschology, ecodance, and urban innovation

1) Miller-McCune writes Studies show nature restores our spirits, improves our thinking, keeps us healthier and probably even saner:

…“Attention Restoration Theory” or ART, which posits that a walk in the woods helps refocus the mind and revive the spirit, has been a growing field of research for the past 20 years. New studies are quantifying the restorative powers of nature and suggesting how the restorative process works.

“In the late 1980s, I discovered that ‘favorite places’ could be a good window [measurable unit of analysis] into how humans use their environment to restore themselves,” states psychologist Kalevi Korpela with Finland’s University of Tampere.

2) In Nature Nicola Jones writes about a collaboration between Vancouver ecologists (including some friends of the RA) and dancers in Dance: Rhythm and reason

3 ) Urban blog Polis writes about the evolution of Jane Jacobs’s ideas about the importance of old buildings in encouraging urban innovation in The use of old buildings, 50 years later