Thursday, June 19, 2008

Drinking on your drivers license

I saw a sign in a men's room today... it said '11 years' .... it's a long time to have a drink driving conviction on your license ...

... I hope that's true

... but the attitude to alcohol I see in the UK makes me think that no one will care! Maybe in 10 years the attitudes will change and there'll be one year left for you to feel embarrassed

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

iWeb and other disasters

At last it's Web 2.0's very own Network of Networks...

What ARE yooryoo? What is yooryou? well that's the point!

...................... From is a venture capitalist firm engaged in the bleeding edge of web 2.0 technologies. We seek out the latest in new tools and technologies that serve to make life easier, and promote them through various online marketing activities. is constantly seeking out new idea-makers, movers-and-shakes throughout the globe, and use our site as a spring-board to highlight their services. Have a good idea? Let us know by emailing us…and we might just send you a big, fat investment check!

Check it out if you have a few moments ... If you still have the Time Magazine issue with YOU on the cover as person of the year ... you just gotta do it ... it's amusing in a web 2.0 kinda way

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Forests in the Mountains

There's an interesting website which details where all the forests on the planet are in relation to the mountains on Earth.

I had a question for some research I'm working on - how much of the world's forest are located above 1000 m? Why did I want to know this? Well ... humans on the planet like to burn fossil fuels and we often look to the natural environment to clean up after ourselves... we create lots of CO2 ... plants take up CO2 and turn it into energy, leaves, stems and wood - in effect sequestering Carbon. So there's a lot of interest in how much CO2 plants are taking up and how much they will take up in future. If we can understand what the Earth is doing we can plan accordingly ... that's the logic anyway.

So lots of people study how much CO2 plants (particularly forests) take up. But they tend to measure the forests they can get to easily and measure most effectively ... usually this means studying forests at low elevations on simple flat terrain. So I wondered ... how much of the world's forests are located in other places? i.e. in mountain regions?

Happily Valerie Kapos of Cambridge University and some colleague of hers have compiled a lot of this information for us.

Kapos, V., Rhind, J., Edwards, M., Ravilious C. and Price, M.F. (2002) Developing a map of the world's mountain forests. In: Price, M.F., Butt, N. (Eds)Forests in Sustainable Mountain Development (IUFRO Research) (IUFRO Research) CAB International, Wallingford, UK. ISBN-10: 0851994466ld K M Bugmann, Mel A Reasoner - Science - 2005 - 650 pages

So I spent the morning listening to the radio and compiling a big table from their work so I could estimate what fraction of the worlds forest was above 1000 m in elevation.

It turns out that nearly 52% of all forests of Earth are above 1000 m. One quarter of all these are in Antartica, nearly 20% are in the Far East and about 10% are in the US and Canada.

What does this mean? Well pretty simply ... we are trying very hard to work out how much CO2 forests are taking up ... but we are focusing 95% of our effort on HALF of the forests and all but ignoring the rest.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I like online video content with a little more style than youtube... for my money provides the most interesting video content in the form of a series of talks from notable people from Clinton to Johnny Chung Lee. But I keep my eye out for other interesting bits and pieces ...

I ran across this from

"....The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - co-Laureates, with Al Gore, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize - presented a public lecture series on its work entitled: "Inside the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Politics". UChannel is devoting the coming week to this important climate change lecture series, with the publication of one IPCC lecture each day from June 15-20...."

Coming up this week are talks from Isaac Held, V. "Ram" Ramaswamy, Ron Stouffer, Michael Oppenheimer, Jae Edmonds & Gary Yohe all speaking on IPCC activities from the evolution of the science to macroeconomics.

China and US battle for top spot in carbon emissions

According to a study released by the The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency China has overtaken the US as the top emitter of CO2 into the atmosphere (the greenhouse gas most linked to rising global average temperatures). However, because there are so many more people in China than in the US ... the average citizen of the US wins the title of most CO2 emitted per person. Europeans are among the top five in both lists... so there's lots of work to do throughout the world.

"China tops the list of CO2 emitting countries, having about a quarter share in global CO2 emissions (24%), followed by the USA (21%), the EU-15 (12%), India (8%) and the Russian Federation (6%)"

"Top 5 CO2 emissions in metric tons of CO2 per person are: USA (19.4), Russia (11.8), EU-15 (8.6), China (5.1 ) and India (1.8)"


Pundits and politicians have been using the rising CO2 emissions from China and India as reasons prevent the US from spending money to curb emissions on the grounds that lowering US emissions will be meaningless if China and India do not also reduce their emissions.

I think the US should act and show some moral leadership - reducing the US Carbon footprint by 10 or 20% would significantly reduce the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere... BUT the punditry is correct on some points... the Chinese and Indian share of the global emissions pie IS growing... the world community must find a way to reduce CO2 emissions all over the world... it's not just science, fancy engineering and people recycling locally ... we need some geopolitical heavy hitters to resolve USA's and China's 'you first' attitude to reducing emissions.

The passing of Tim Russert

It's very odd to be in England and watching the coverage of the passing of Tim Russert. I found out around lunchtime on Saturday that Mr Russert died of a heart attack on Friday afternoon ... even though I've been listening to the BBC all morning.

When I logged on to the MSNBC website and found that the channel's collection of online video was for a time entirely devoted to Mr Russert's death. For those of you who don't know Tim Russert is one of the most famous political journalists in the US. I'm not sure there's a UK equivalent ... maybe Jeromy Paxman is as famous ... but Russert was famous for calm, unbiased questioning of senators, presidents, congressmen and national and international political figures of all stripes and leanings.

I knew Russert as the host of the Sunday morning political talk show 'Meet the Press' when I used to live in the US - I still watch the podcast edition of the show every week. I thought the show was always neutral and informative. Despite Russert's style of quoting politician's own words from previous interviews, the interviews were never adversarial. I've been listening to the interviews on the Beeb in the last 6 months. I remember particular a Radio 4 interview of Gordon Brown by John Humpries where the Prime Minister was given very little opportunity to say anything in between Humphries' badgering. When I contrast that the Russert interview with President Bush:

"Russert: The night you took the country to war, March 17th, you said this: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

President Bush: Right.

Russert: That apparently is not the case.

President Bush: Correct."

Russert never raised his voice... he never interrupted the president ... he just methodically asked follow up questions to allow the viewer to see when the President failed to answer specific questions.

The vast majority of interviewers on US TV are very adversarial ... I'll miss Russert's technique.

As an aside ... the Wall Street Journal's health blog notes that "300,000 Americans die of sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital each year, according to the American Heart Association." In the UK the figure is about 208,000 (but the UK has a much smaller population). A 58 year old man who was a little rotund but appeared to be in good health dropped dead at work. Since I'm in the land of the larger binge and late night chippie ... maybe it's a good idea to get the old ticker checked out.