Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ocean 'dead zones' increasing

That's what scientists studying the so called 'dead zones' have concluded according to this article from the San Fransisco Chronicle.

"the seafloor revealed a boneyard of crab skeletons, dead fish and other marine life smothered under a white mat of bacteria." It doesn't sound too good, does it?

The dead zones are created by local conditions of low oxygen, and are doubling in number around the planet every decade. Whilst there are several causes for the development of the dead zones. the scientists are now firmly pointing the finger of blame at global warming as a key exacerbating factor.

Meanwhile, some palaeontologists are suggesting that the planet is already well into a sixth mass species extinction. They suggest that as many as 70% of species (similar to that which marked the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago) will disappear from our biosphere if we do nothing to halt climate change. The report in the Anchorage Daily News makes for very depressing reading.

Time for less talk and more doing?

Is Ol' Golden losing it?

That's the question posed by The Spectator in an article that suggests that our PM is incapable of undertaking the task he has been handed.

"His behaviour is erratic and bizarre; he phones colleagues at all hours with imperious demands while dithering over every decision he has to take."

"He tries to big-foot every minister and meddle in every department for all the world as if he has an uncontrollable tic; he is the Touretter of public administration. Yet the more he meddles, the more everything falls to pieces underneath him."


Some of the comments posted are quite amusing ..... this from Jan Maciag had me smiling.

"the country’s leadership now consists of people whose sole skill is the ability to talk. They have had absolutely no experience of running anything as complex as a whelk store before they are catapulted from some dubious think tank into ‘running’ huge government ministries"

Now who can argue with that?

From water mills to free standing turbines

Water power has been used for centuries in form of the old humble water mill, but free standing turbines may well turn out to be one of the developing technologies that we will hear a lot about over the coming years, as this from The Economist explains.

The image is an example of a Gorlov Helical Turbine, being developed by Lucid Energy Technologies, one of a number of free standing turbines that are currently in development and undergoing trials.

The great thing about this method of power generation is that it doesn't necessitate the construction of huge dams or tidal barrages as the need for a large head of water is obviated. And the three major problems of poor efficiency, costly maintenance and protecting the key electricity generating components appear to be on the verge of being fully overcome.

Definitely a technology to keep an eye on. Perhaps the Severn tidal barrage may not be necessary in its proposed form after all?

The start of a major slanging match?

That would appear to be what this article from TravelMole is indicating.

It is probably the first major salvo fired by the aviation industry at the shipping industry, which is now recognised as being a major CO2 emitter in its own right.

The thing is, all finger pointing and cross industry sniping will achieve, at the most, is nothing. But I'm sure that this is not the last time it will happen.

You can't push cream.

It rises to the top.

I was reminded of this as I processed a series of disconnected segments of BBC Breakfast news this morning.

And I also harked back to when I was an agency head in Singapore and the government there decided something needed to be done to 'create' more 'creativity' in a country noted for lots of right brain graft and diliegnt application, but perhaps not so much left brain inspiration.

So they convened a bunch of types like me from perceived 'creative' professions to outline their vision. This seemed to revolve around establishing a centre of creative excellence in Jurong, which is in the industrial heartland of the city state, filling it full of nifty stuff and state glee clubbers, and...voila!

Most round the table smiled and said 'great!'. Why not? It wasn't going to cost us anything. Then a hand popped up. Mine. I simply offered the view that, in my experience, around the world most original, innovative creativity mostly evolved from a less structured environment. Not a hothouse, especially one on a flatted factory in an estate. SoHo, Covent Garden. Left Bank.

I was not invited back.

Now I see that £800M has been 'invested', to little effect, to keep kids in University as 25% are dropping out. Seems the new education systems may be getting a lot more eligible to enter, but not so much to cope. The aim seems more to support the aims of targets than any actual educational benefits, to state or student. A bunch of kids into a system they may not be suited for and out without much they can apply. Worryingly, the new plan is erring more in throwing more money to adjust things some more so they still go in no matter what, to maximsie the 'benefits' their tuition fee debts confer.

I counterpoint this with a story about a South London state school that is cranking out some of greater new art talents. The difference? The principal is quoted as being interested in only developing their skills to fulfill the pontetial they wish to pursue. Not, X-factor-like, to shape a predetermined plan of what a minority think should be.

And it seems to work. With the public. QED.

What's this got to do with the environment? Well, apply it all, just to this industry. The waste. The misguided faith in meddling. The money blown on a system vs. letting what works evolve with support, but a more benign, results rather process-oriented aim.

I thought it was funny

Brown becomes an unlikely pin-up for Fijian tourism

He is, one presumes, not holding a bottle of local mineral water.