Wild Green Yonder
Friday, January 31, 2003
The wild sloth chase
Here's the text of the original Wild Sloth Chase message. Sigh. As I move towards completing this book, I'm feeling nostalgic about everything involved.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
World War 2.5
The possible results of a war in Iraq in game form.
Davos v. Porto Allegre
The American Prospect has a good piece. contrasting the views of corporate globalization (as seen at the World Economic Forum) and NGO internationalism (as seen at the World Social Forum:
Lula's victory certainly helps make the case for the Porto Alegre theme, "Another World Is Possible." But the vision of that other world is still incomplete. There is no consensus among the many disparate groups that fill the hundreds of workshops and seminars of their convention. The emphasis on self-sufficiency, decentralization and autonomy for indigenous tribes does not necessarily resonate with the majority of the world's impoverished people, who see their problem as lack of access to First World goods and services.
Sunday, January 26, 2003
Dust Bowl, 2003
Huge dust clouds are blowing across China. Experts blame climate change, overpopulation, and industrial agriculture, but whatever the causes, these Asian dust bowls are serous as a telegram:
"The clouds sweep up millions of tons of precious topsoil from Chinese fields and pastures. Gone in a single day, the soil will take centuries to replace. But this is just the most dramatic symptom of the accelerating spread of deserts across the country, which is home to nearly one in every four people on the planet.
"Between 1994 and 1999, the country's Environmental Protection Agency reports, the Gobi Desert expanded by 20,240 square miles, to within just 150 miles of Beijing, New, smaller, areas of desert are erupting all over the country. In all, this "desertification" is affecting 40 per cent of the country's land. Partly as a result, harvests – which more than quadrupled between 1950 and 1998 – have fallen sharply, even as China's population and appetite grow.
"In Ganzu province alone, some 4,000 villages are facing being submerged by drifting sands, and the Earth Policy Institute believes that throughout the country tens of millions of people may be forced off their land, dwarfing the migrations of the "Okies" from the American dust bowl..."
Friday, January 24, 2003
Our Ancestors Were Star Gazers
A German scientist has identified a star chart perhaps 35,000 years old carved on a mammoth bone and found in a cave in the Rhine Valley. It portrays the constellation Orion. Cool.
(from Jon's Weblowsky)
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Sim City for Eco-Wonks, Sort Of...
I'm pretty disappointed in UBC's QUEST game. It's definitely worth a look: a simulation of the ecological, land-use and economic choices facing the greater Vancouver area. You get to prioritize different aspects of change, and then it spits out the results in 2040. But that's about as far as it goes.
While I think simualtions are great tools for examining communal change, QUEST has none of the playability or adaptation of the Sim games. It's frankly not very fun after you tinker for ten minutes. And the choices they force on you are not all that interesting.
What I want to see is a MMP simulation of urban life which takes seriously the idea that what people can create together often astounds the planners' models - an urban simulation in which everything is possible, as long as it doesn't affront a known law of the universe.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
"No need to worry about these problems, as long as your children like plankton stew."
The NYT ran a fabulous piece on Daniel Pauly, the UBC fisheries scientist who is perhaps the leading authority on the state of the planet's oceans (it's bad, very bad).
I suspect that oceanic environmentalism will become a major force over the decade, as coral reefs (more important even than rainforests) bleach out and die, salt water marshes are destroyed by rising seas and toxic chemicals and nearly every fish that can be eaten by human beings is fished to the edge of extinction.
(Pauly's suggestion, by the way, is large international oceanic parks, where fishing is banned and fishstocks can regenerate. He is also one of the drivers behind the creation of Fishbase, a database of all known fish species.)