Archive for March, 2009

Climate initiatives

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

A number of companies and organizations are putting forward thoughts and plans, some with money attached:

  1. Announces Core Initiatives to Combat Climate Change, Poverty and Emerging Threats
  2. McKinsey Climate Change Special Initiative
  3. Clinton Climate Initiative: C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group
  4. Al Gore

Healthy food

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The Healthy Ageing report explains how to protect the eyes, brain, bones and heart and stave off diseases including diabetes and cancer in later life by eating the right diet.

If everyone were to follow the advice – which also recommends stopping smoking and taking more exercise – the ageing population will be markedly more free of illness in later life.

Living ages are increasing rapidly, and we have to make sure that we live well.

For the heart recommending foods containing healthier fats, soluble fibre and potassium, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, pulses, oats, potatoes, root vegetables, fish and milk.

For the heart and brain, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, leafy vegetables and nuts are recommended to ensure a decent intake of Vitamin B12 and folate. Alcohol is also recommended in moderation.

The bones, the report says, are best served by Vitamin K found in green leafy vegetables, liver, broccoli and asparagus, and both bones and muscles benefit from Vitamin D found in oily fish, eggs, margarine and fortified cereals.

The blood benefits from iron found in liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, wholegrain foods and leafy vegetables, and the eyes require lutein/zeaxanthin from kiwi fruit, grapes, spinach, kale and peppers.

The teeth need fluoride found in tea and fish, while the prostrate needs lycopene found in tomatoes, guava, apricots, watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit.

For all body systems, a list of foods containing Vitamin C, beta-carotene and Vitamin E is provided which includes tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, citrus fruits, melon, dark green, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables along with plant oils, nuts, seeds and wheatgerm.

See link: Healthy Ageing


Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The Information Centre, GB, a body responsible for NHS data has published a status report:  diet, lack of exercise and an increase in alcohol abuse has led to steep rises in lifestyle diseases in the past five years!

Levels of diabetes have more than doubled in that period, the number of people with high blood pressure has risen by more than a third, the number of people with epilepsy increased by 15.6 per cent and those with heart disease by 6.2 per cent.

Better screening and an ageing population drive up the figures, but unhealthy diets and insufficient exercise among large sections of the population are boosting illness rates.

Figures from the Department of Health suggest 21.2 per cent of men and 21.5 per cent of women are now classified as obese. The diabetes epidemic is being driven mainly by the increase in Type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease that is linked to poor diet and lack of exercise.

The future of cancers

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

In a few decades cancer will be seen as a chronic illness that mostly can be prevented or controlled. Sequencing of the genome will be done routinely for children to reveal their genetic susceptibility to cancers (and other illnesses), and a prevention programme will be established.

We have four major opportunities and challenges: Technology, diagnostics, society’s attitude towards the cost of sickness, new kinds of places for treatment.
From a recent report: “The analysis indicated that 67.4 per cent of women with breast cancer and 39.9 per cent of patients with colorectal cancer were “cured” in England, along with 12.4 per cent of stomach cancer patients and 44 per cent of those with prostate cancer.”
Survival rates are improving all the time! 

Climate warning models – we need a clear scientific lead.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

We need models and figures to estimate the future of the climate. Predict and prevent!

The climate is the average of the weather in the last 30 years, and the variations can be large. Creating models that can foretell us the climate – in about 100 years time or more is important and necessary. Climate scenarios for the future must be developed and there will be large variations spurring debate. In an ideal world our politics should be based on research results.

CO2 figures for the air and the oceans must be measured. It now seems that the oceans are full in relation to CO2 and can only very slowly assimilate additional CO2.

The first IPCC report came in 2007, and the next report is coming in 2013. We know that the models must include influences from man-made emissions, the strength of the sun, volcanic activity, reduced oceanic CO2-ability, and possibly other factors.

We are talking of establishing historical records for climate, and using these records to project the future. Many countries in the world have few records, whereas others – India, Russia for example have  a lot. It also appears that times of severe climate change has led to severe conflicts, even destruction of civilizations. We have to find out more about these mechanisms – both what has been and what will come.

The sea levels is rising much faster today than was predicted only two years ago. It seems some climatic effects were neglected in the models used.

Severe dry conditions can adversely affect the balance of CO2 in the rainforests. The loss may be substantial and it could be neccessary to include this factor in future climate models.

A good book by Professor David J.C. MacKay with figures about climate and energy:

Festivals and conferences

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
  • South by Southwest festivals and conferences in Austin, Texas (SXSW)

Now in its 23rd year SXSW has grown into a massive media beast for trends in culture and media. The SXSW MUSIC AND MEDIA CONFERENCE features a legendary festival showcasing more than 1,800 musical acts of all genres from around the globe on over eighty stages in Austin.
The SXSW FILM CONFERENCE AND FESTIVAL explores the art and business of independent filmmaking. 
The Conference hosts a five-day adventure in filmmaking trends and new technology, with distinguished speakers and mentors. The nine-day Festival has everything from provocative documentaries to subversive Hollywood comedies, with a special focus on emerging talents.
The SXSW INTERACTIVE FESTIVAL celebrates the coolest new media technologies: web design, bootstrapping, social networks. You can make new business connections at the three-day Trade Show & Exhibition. The newest is ScreenBurn at SXSW, which adds specific gaming industry programming and a three-day Arcade.

  • Glastonbury
  • Roskilde

The death of newspapers and CDs

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
  • Print editions of papers are closing down all over the world. There is a feeling of crisis. Seattle Post-Intelligencer  is closing the print edition after 146 years, going over to the net exclusively.

The paper era is over, and the new media houses are ascending. Many new digital editions are surfacing, and some are quite good already. The thinking behind newspapers are also changing fundamentally: customers are online, more sharing, using the network, serving special interests, catering to communities, new business models, etc. 

But new monetizing models are elusive: How do we generate income? New streams of revenue must be found.

This is not a crisis, but a process of fundamental change. The challenges are great, but so are the rewards for the new moguls of the new media age. Its about networking and collaborating with your customers.

  • The CD is vanishing, and so is your physical music store. CD sales dropped by 19% in the US and the number of music buyers is also dropping significantly. Digital music downloads increased by 29%, but many people have stopped paying for recorded music. More people are listening to free music provided by the likes of Pandora, iMeem MySpace Music. But all of the sites that are providing free music are having a very hard time figuring out how to monetize their offerings.

Developments are on their way.

CCS – what will it be?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) may be technically useful to prevent global warming. Politicians think so too.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) thinks the world will need over 200 power plants equipped with CCS by 2030 to limit the rise in average global temperatures to about 3°C. 

There is not a single big power plant using CCS anywhere in the world. CCS is uncertain.

CCS sounds simple: isolate carbon dioxide where it is produced,  compress it and pump it underground. Carbon dioxide is expected to stay in certain rock formations indefinitely. Oil firms have long experience of pumping carbon dioxide into reservoirs. Sleipner off Norway has been running for 13 years without any sign of leaks.

In America, Australia, China, Germany and India coal provides half or more of the power supply.

The problem with CCS is the cost. Each tonne may cost $ 50-115 to avoid emission, whereas the price of emissions are about $11. Norway has a heavy carbon tax – last summer it reached over €40 a tonne.

Spills could be a health risk if the deposits start leaking.

Governments may eventually take charge of reservoirs, along with all the monitoring costs and legal liabilities. 

Al Gore does not see CCS working commercially “in the near term or even the medium term”. Governments will have to take a role initially, but the final outcome of CCS is not clear today.

(The Economist)

The goal of climate policy

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Norway will is aiming at reductions in emissions of 30% of the 1990 level to be achieved within 2020, and be carbon neutral by 2050. 2/3 of the cuts will be taken in Norway, and 1/3 by buying international quotas. 

Is there a consensus in Norway about this that will last up to 2050? What points of action will lead us there? Do we have a plan? What politics will we see  to take us there?

The tipping point

Monday, March 16th, 2009

James Hansen: We must reduce the CO2 emissions to a lower level soon or the the effects will be irreversible.

Cap and trade will not generate enough cash to achieve a reduction, the quotas will be too cheap, and it will take too long to establish the system.

He suggests a system with where the main emitters USA, China, EU agrees upon a tax for polluters. The proceeds will be paid back to the people who pay the tax to be used for reductions. This system can be established within a year.