01 June 2019

PV Potential ~ Mapping Sunpower Worldwide...

The Sun is a giant thermonuclear reactor in the sky powerbeaming 24x7. A tiny sliver hits the daily rotating Earth and then you have to discount for angles and overcasts. When all's accounted for, here's the resulting worldmap of terrestrial potential for PV or photovoltaic sunpower... Curiously enough, most maps like this only show land incidence. But surely we could float massive solar panels out on swathes of ocean? In fact, perhaps we should hoover up the massive ocean gyres of waste plastic and convert these into floatation for PV paneling.

27 May 2019

Protected Planet ~ Goal of 50% of Earth by 2050

I'm particularly interested in seeing half of Earth be protected by 2050.  Towards this goal, Protected Planet shares the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) covering both terrestrial and marine protected areas and tracks progress... The IUCN has a half dozen so-called "Protected Area Management Categories" -- and those are important and worth adding to directly, but I hope we can especially push for enhancement of Category VI "Sustainable Use" with particular eye on private conservancies, land banks, forestry reserves, flood management zones, and potentially even the careful extractions of natural resources. Finally, I hope that we figure out how not to ravage the other half of Earth but rather we green it appropriately (e.g. our cities), share it with nature, and refrain from eco-devastation generally.

Personal Electric Mobility ~ Market Size & Share

Very interesting to see adoption of personal electric vehicles in Europe and Asia. Curious how much of the advantages are State subsidy and tax relief? Norway, for example, offers substantial tax benefits, the right to drive in carpool lanes solo, and free charging, which kind of distorts market action. Also, China has endless ways of State subsidies for both personal and mass transit electrification. Which all may make environmental sense. In any case, here's share and size info from Statista...

14 March 2019

Tectonics in the Tropics ~ Ice Age Triggers!

Jennifer Chu of MIT News spotlights recent research indicating that Tectonics in the Tropics Trigger Earth’s Ice Ages...
"Over the last 540 million years, the Earth has weathered three major ice ages [each] preceded by tropical “arc-continent collisions” -- tectonic pileups that occurred near the Earth’s equator -- in which oceanic plates rode up over continental plates, exposing tens of thousands of kilometers of oceanic rock to a tropical environment.  [The] heat and humidity of the tropics likely triggered a chemical reaction between […] the rocks’ calcium and magnesium […] pulling the [CO2] out of the atmosphere and permanently sequestering it in the form of carbonates such as limestone [cooling] temperatures globally and ultimately [setting] off an ice age."
https://eapsweb.mit.edu/news/2019/tectonics-tropics-trigger-earths-ice-ages-study-finds

Beyond the Cradle ~ Media Lab x Outer Space!

Excellent to see the third year of Beyond the Cradle organized by the Space Exploration Initiative at MIT Media Lab today! Great talk by Nobel physicist Prof Sam Ting this morning plus SF panel featuring Daniel Suarez (of Daemon, FreedomTM, and Influx fame, with Delta-v coming soon!) among others! See live video!
https://www.media.mit.edu/events/beyond-the-cradle-2019/

19 February 2019

Civilizational Endurance ~ Causes of Collapse...

Luke Kemp at the BBC asks Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?
"If the fate of previous civilisations can be a roadmap to our future, what does it say? One method is to examine the trends that preceded historic collapses and see how they are unfolding today. [...] The collapse of our civilisation is not inevitable. History suggests it is likely, but we have the unique advantage of being able to learn from the wreckages of societies past. [...] We will only march into collapse if we advance blindly. We are only doomed if we are unwilling to listen to the past."
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190218-are-we-on-the-road-to-civilisation-collapse
"Collapse is a tipping point phenomena, when compounding stressors overrun societal coping capacity. We can examine these indicators of danger to see if our chance of collapse is falling or rising. Here are four of those possible metrics, measured over the past few decades:"
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190218-are-we-on-the-road-to-civilisation-collapse

Medieval Trade Routes ~ Well Beyond Silk...

Medieval Trade Routes zoomable map! https://easyzoom.com/imageaccess/ec482e04c2b240d4969c14156bb6836f

18 February 2019

Marine Protected Areas ~ Conserving the Seas

The BBC's Ade Adepitan visits the coast of Gabon which has implemented a substantial Marine Protected Area off its coast. I've been moved by the idea that half of Earth should be set aside in nature protection reserves. That is, half for animal kingdom, half for humanity. Right now, there's a lot more work to be done. Here's the biggest of the MPA's... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_protected_area

09 February 2019

AI for Impact ~ Spring'19 @ MIT Media Lab...

Together with colleague Ramesh Raskar, I'm co-teaching the AI for Impact seminar this Spring 2019 every Mon afternoon starting Feb 11th from 2:30-4:30a in E15-341, the heart of the MIT Media Lab! Our goal is to bring computational, analytics, and AI techniques to bear on solving problems in the high impact realms of health & wellness, cities & sustainability, across scales of action from each of us as individuals to embracing all of humanity, in both developed and emerging markets alike, all broadly understood.  We want to help students identify top AI opportunities for impact and help make progress towards building prototypes, planning action ventures, and/or better understanding the emerging technology and impact trendscape.  Formerly known as "Imaging Ventures" or “AI Ventures”, this “AI for Impact” class seeks answers to the question:  If you could make almost anything, what's actually most worth making, i.e. what problems are most worth picking?  We believe starting with the right problem is 90% of what makes for great projects and ultimately epic, worthy solutions.
http://stellar.mit.edu/S/course/MAS/sp19/MAS.533/

05 February 2019

Inclusive Economies ~ Spring'19 D-Lab Seminar

Together with colleagues Kate Mytty and Libby McDonald, I'm co-teaching the Inclusive Economies seminar this Spring 2019 every Wed morning starting Feb 6th from 9:30-11:30a in N51-350, the D-Lab classroom area! We explore how innovations and market mechanisms can benefit humanity by rallying impact investments, engaging participants cooperatively, boosting equity and resilience, and broadening prosperity. We look at market mechanisms for maximizing participation, choice, and growth; impact investing approaches which are socially responsible and include metrics that matter; cooperative and mutual ownership structures for shared gains; equitable citizen participation in basic and natural resource wealth; and the role of new technologies and methods towards boosting affordability, accessibility, and overall inclusive prosperity. https://d-lab.mit.edu/education/courses/d-lab-inclusive-economies

25 January 2019

Hurricane Prediction ~ Forecast Quality Progress

Richard B. Alley, Kerry A. Emanuel, Fuqing Zhang write in Science about Advances in weather prediction...
"In recent decades, advances in forecasting have been rapid, arising from improved observations and models, and better integration of these through data assimilation and related techniques. Investment in weather forecasting pays large dividends, ranging from 3 to 10 times the costs.  [But] the developing world is especially vulnerable to weather disasters yet is underserved by forecasting."
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6425/342?fbclid=IwAR1H8uKcUtkZpnxS3Wghw5sAjI2ftM4dkstvd8Xg5lmRfHkhJSj5i-i8xkY

09 January 2019

Disaffection with Democracy ~ Warning Signs...

Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk in The Signs of Deconsolidation in the Journal of Democracy share evidence of a global pattern of disaffection with democratic systems...
"Americans’ dissatisfaction with the democratic system is part of a much larger global pattern. It is not just that the proportion of Americans who state that it is “essential” to live in a democracy, which stands at 72 percent among those born before World War II, has fallen to 30 percent among millennials. It is also that [...] a similar cohort pattern is found across all longstanding democracies, including Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand. In virtually all cases, the generation gap is striking, with the proportion of younger citizens who believe it is essential to live in a democracy falling to a minority."
http://journalofdemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Foa%26Mounk%20-%20JoD%2028.1%20-%20PRE-PRINT%20VERSION.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1FsK2oNhmAf9cf78HsXtSMcoBB0jNgLwla8QFeLpHq42ey4lECYY7OM6Q
"What is more, this disaffection with the democratic form of government is accompanied by a wider skepticism toward liberal institutions. Citizens are growing more disaffected with established political parties, representative institutions, and minority rights. Tellingly, they are also increasingly open to authoritarian interpretations of democracy. The share of citizens who approve of “having a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament or elections,” for example, has gone up markedly in most of the countries where the World Values Survey asked the question -- including such varied places as Germany, the United States, Spain, Turkey, and Russia"
http://journalofdemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Foa%26Mounk%20-%20JoD%2028.1%20-%20PRE-PRINT%20VERSION.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1FsK2oNhmAf9cf78HsXtSMcoBB0jNgLwla8QFeLpHq42ey4lECYY7OM6Q

08 January 2019

LA Timelapse Map ~ Infra, Nets, Pop, Econ, etc!

The Getty Research Institute shares timelapse maps of Los Angeles Instrastructure, Networks, Settlements, Population, Economy, and Conflicts! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmvwp5UpB1U