Photo source unknown, via Fresh Photons
Click to enlarge. Note that Vancouver’s altitude ranges from 0m to 152m (mountainous) – the YVR airport is at about 4m.
From Information is Beautiful.
RESEARCH – DAVID MCCANDLESS
ILLUSTRATION – JOE SWAINSON, LAURA SULLIVAN
SOURCES: IPCC, NASA, REALCLIMATE.ORG, NEWSCIENTIST.COM, POTSDAM INSTITUTE, SEA LEVEL EXPLORER
By DAVID NG
“In stark contrast to its cuddly international image, Canada is the dirty old man of the climate world – missing its Kyoto emissions reduction target by a country mile (by 2007, it was 34% above its target) and showing no signs of reigning in its profligacy.” The Guardian, November 30, 2009
What the hell is going on? That conference was a freaking fiasco! What happened? And how is Mr. Environment Minister going to do to fix it?
Stevie (The PM).
O.K. We have a plan. A couple of things actually. Most of them revolving around science and stuff, since we keep getting hammered on our stance with what the climatologists are telling us (you know, the IPCC reports and such). Anyway, the plan is multifaceted, and we’re still bouncing off ideas (FYI: if you got any Prime Ministery input, just pass it on), but here is what we have so far:
1. To get the scientific community off our back, we’re going to challenge them to perform definitive, but basically impossible, climate science experiments. Doesn’t that sound great? I wrote that myself. And here’s one just off the top of my head, which I’m calling the TRI-EARTH experiment (also, wrote that myself). Here, we’ll ask scientists to create two other planet Earths, and populate them with identical geology, biodiversity and anthropogenic infrastructure, and then do a compare and comparison. Our current Earth could be the test subject, whereas the other two could represent “controls” (ooh actual science lingo). These would be conditions with (a) zero fossil fuel emissions, and (b) intensive fossil fuel emissions. Scientists would then be asked to collect data for 100 years, and then reconvene with their conclusions. Brilliant right? Oh man, our tech guys are gonna love making that website.
2. To get the environmental community off our backs, we’re thinking of asking the HR Departments of all tar sand companies to actively hire members of the biodiversity community. And we’re not talking scientists here, but actual animals – the cuter and the furrier the better! Anyway, the idea is that this would be an excellent way to create tension between all those environmentalists. Imagine the debates! I can hear them already: “You can’t shut down the tar sands! Think of the livelihood of our friends, the [insert name of cute furry mammal]. How will they maintain their way of life?” Basically, with the right amount of nuts, we could get a squirrel or two to say anything. As an added bonus, the irony alone just might get Suzuki’s brain to explode.
3. This one is a biggie! We’re looking into actually creating new scientific laws! Wouldn’t that be great? I mean a good chunk of the data out there is based on rigorous climate modeling, which is powered by scientific laws and mathematical equations (bla bla bla). So we say: why not take matters into our own hands, and create something like a new addition to the Laws of Thermodynamics. I mean, these laws are well known, they come up a lot in climate studies (the first law with its overbearing “energy cannot be created or destroyed” mantra is especially annoying), and as a bonus, they even have too many syllables which we know is always good for added confusion. If we’re smart, we can even make the new law a little “magical” (seriously, maybe something about unicorns – you like unicorns right?). This might make the whole creationism angle a little easier to swallow scientifically (and you know me, I’m always looking for ways to widen our support base).
4. Advertising: and lots of it. Maybe go with either a “Canada is a Climate Change Free Zone” angle (wouldn’t that look great on a t-shirt?); or maybe just a straight up promotion of things to do in a hotter climate. I think the “Hot Canada” idea could sell itself. I’m thinking five words: beach volleyball and umbrella drinks. Hmmm… let me write that down. Could work as a possible slogan.
O.K enough writing… I’m going to send this memo off right now. These are just a few ideas we’re ready to act on. Add on a good old general marketing blitz, and I think we got something that should do the trick. Anyway, just say the word boss and we’ll get on it pronto.
Sounds great. Make it so (I love saying that). Oh and how about this for a slogan, “No more sweater vests!”
“Photographer Mitch Payne, Designer Kyle Bean and Art Director Gemma Fletcher collaborate on a playful still life project which visually represents different forms of renewable energy. Energy extracted from resources which are continually replenished such as Solar,Nuclear and Wind. Each image depicts a glass tank housing various setups acting as ‘energy sources’ which power a lightbulb. The series includes ‘Geothermal’ where coloured gravel is layered up to represent a cross section through earth and ‘Tidal’ where water is seen dramatically splashing like a giant wave within the glass tank.”
Thinking of entering my own art at the upcoming #hotartcard event. Although to be honest, I’m more of a “I only draw/paint because my walls look a bit empty, and I’m actually a scientist, so feel a little funny calling myself an artist” kind of artist.
Even the air and the water obey (the Laws of Thermodynamics). Part 1
(pastels and charcoal)
“One of the known environmental changes that is happening is the rising of the sea level through global warming. It is critical to me that at the time of its making this work reacts with the viewer, the walking viewer, on the top of the polder and that the surface that the viewer stands on is the surface that the work stands on. The work cannot have a plinth. Over time, should the rising of the sea level mean that there has to be a rising of the dike, this means that there should be a progressive burying of the work.”
Recently, I was asked to imagine a set of New Year’s Resolutions that “Science” would aspire towards. This was pretty general and in good fun, as well as potential fodder for a piece at Slate. In the end, Slate only used a small part of my rambling, but I figured this blog is as good a place as any to share the rest of my role playing resolutions. As well, I’ve categorized it into three main sections, and note that some of them are a little silly (albeit potentially AWESOME).
A: Proper science (technical) resolutions
- Some major mind blowing breakthrough(s) in the renewable energy category. Something, basically where the cost per watt just destroys the competing fossil fuel economy.
- DNA Sequencing to hit that magic criteria where costs and speed are met. Basically, something akin to someone getting that Genomics X Prize (http://genomics.xprize.org/). With those kind of capabilities, I think this is where the ideas behind personal genomics can really be put to test (we’re fast approaching it anyway). Note that ideally, this would also mean that the policy side of things can also keep up.
- Somebody works out an efficient, effective, and easy way to isolate, purify, culture, and even possibly reset adult stem cells.
B: In the education, and/or policy arena
- Some kind of decent increase in national funding for science research generally – this works for any number of countries, US, and England (and Canada), in particular. This is especially true in the basic research category which tends to get hit the hardest due to lack of appreciation (by politicians and the general public at large) of how science tends to progress.
- Science expertise in policy making decisions is given much (much!) more clout. This kind of clout is needed so that more (all?) political decisions are made based on rationality, validity and good evidence (climate change policy, I’m looking at you). While we’re at it, such expertise must also be utilized in a much more efficient and quicker fashion, since this advice doesn’t help if it can’t keep up with the science (decisions around molecular genetics/genomics for instance). Basically, science needs to have a much more primary role in the political world.
- Slow but strategic introduction of “Science Philosophy” concepts into school curricula, such that one day, it will have a much more significant presence throughout elementary and high school syllabus (and also diversified in where it turns up: such as in Social Studies as well as the usual science topics). This is because the nuances of things like the scientific method are far too important to be really only covered at the earlier ages where it is presented in an overly simplistic fashion. The epistemology of science much richer than that, and ultimately you want all citizens to comfortable and knowledgable in such things because they provide the best practices for good decision making. (Plus, it doesn’t have to be boring either – check out this piece for instance) In other words, it’s not necessarily about educating people to become scientists, it’s more about teaching everyone the value of “thinking” like a scientist. Put another way, I’d like everyone to smile while looking at this t-shirt, but then on reflection, that same person would ask themselves “How is that claim validated? What is the evidence?”
- I would love for science communication skill sets/options/practices to have a greater presence in the conventional academic science pipeline. In other words, something like if there is a dedicated funding schematic for graduate students to have the option of exploring these practices. Translation of science needs more advocates from those in the trenches, or at least needs more that have some experience in the public communications arena.
- Somebody to develop a “Downton Abbey” type television series, but revolve it around the contrasting relationships between supervising scientists (professors, etc), and the rest of the lab (graduate students, technicians). That show is like crack (I can only assume) to me.
- Where science begins to be recognized formally as a “creative” endeavour. i.e. you go to the art gallery, and there’s a floor or the permanent exhibit looking at how science is, in many ways, a form of art. This isn’t so much from the point of view of “this data looks aesthetically pleasing,” but rather, “how they came up with that hypothesis is just so elegant.” I, and I’m sure others, believe that there’s beauty in that.
C: “Out there, totally unrealistic but this would be awesome category.”
- Somebody invent a time machine already, so that we can finally persuade Climate Change denialists that Climate modelling is actually a very robust and validated science. In other words, with this contraption we can finally go to the future, and say “See, told you…”
- Give the UN enforcement capabilities for international agreements concerning the environment or biodiversity issues. I suggest giving them lightsabers so that everyone knows that this is serious now.
- A super group who makes a “Let’s promote science literacy” music album (can we still call it an album?). I can see Thom Yorke, Peter Gabriel, and Bjork doing this as a triad of voices backed by the rest of the Radiohead band.
Alright, that was fun. Any other suggestions out there?
(Image by Kenwyn Lim)
I don’t know what it is about marking papers, but my brand of procrastination seems to lead to silly creative science pursuits.
And so, here is a song I quickly wrote and laid down some tracks last night. It’s kind of amazing what you can do with the average computer and a decent microphone these days. Hope you enjoy!
Listen, things are getting warmer
You can call it climate, climate that is changing
Simple in that science, science is the reason
We should take a stand, come up with a plan, listen to
It’s like this, living in a greenhouse
throwing in the air now, burning in the air now
warmer radiation, holding at the station
models add it up, heat is going up.
G A Dm G
Don’t you know It’s science, showing us the numbers
showing us a truth, something we can trust,
Something that we must take hold and move on forward
It’s like this, following the first law
Which is all to say that, that everything is bookkept
Counted and accounted. Following the heat
Following the work, following the state of things
Heat up, means it getting warmer
And with work a storming, moving air and water
Also changing states, melting ice to liquid
Averaging it out, causing thing to shout
Don’t you know…
Science: it’s not opinion, it’s not like fiction, and not religion. It’s rational, and looks at facts, mistakes are tracked, it looks at evidence.
By Cyanide and Happiness. Note that the site is NSFW.
By DAVID NG
Ever since the Keystone XL Pipeline (originally slated to transport Tar Sand bitumen from Alberta to Nebraska) was stalled, the attention on finding a new route has focused around my own neck of the woods – namely through British Columbia which is currently viewed as a portal for shipping to China. And it seems like every time I open the paper, there’s some new story about big oil shenanigans. Here, Enbridge is the company, and the varying reports of spinning include allegely censoring a newspaper cartoonist, producing a promo video that conveniently leaving out islands in the challenging shipping routes, being quiet on the omission of particularly nasty environmental reports in certain due processes, the somewhat positive downplaying of a spill that happened only a few weeks ago, and finding out that the required “scientific review” won’t really happen because the government recently gutted the department that would have been responsible for that job..
All of this, of course, makes you wonder what a meeting in an oil company’s PR division is really like, and here, I thought I’d have a little fun with this: Seriously, though, at the rate we’re going, I wouldn’t be surprised if memos like the fictitious one below are being passed around:
- – -
Memo: Turning pipeline leaks into something positive!
Alright everyone, it’s time for some major spin control. We managed to plug that pipeline up, but now we seem to be losing the public relations fight what with the freaking amount of bitumen that spilled out. Seriously, the bad press is everywhere, and we are, quite frankly, getting crucified out there. So what can we do about this? How can we turn this PR nightmare into a PR fairytale?
Well, we in the spin department think that we’ve got an idea that can’t lose. Let me explain. Basically, when we thought about the idea of a PR fairytale, we thought about castles. And when we thought about castles (stay with me here), as vanguards of the capitalist world, of course we didn’t think about real historic castles – no, we thought about pink stucco creations, like the kind you might associate with movie studios and animated versions of Cinderella. And then (like magic, we did this all at once, I swear) we said to ourselves, “THEME PARK!” And then we wondered, how much energy is in this leaked tar sand product anyway?
Well, it turns out (with some very speedy back of the envelope calculations) that the amount of energy we can get from it might be good enough to explore the running of our own magic kingdom! Well, at least if we can count on a few more leaks along the way. But how cool would that be? Anyway, here’s the gist. We just pull that energy from our happy accident(s), redirect it, and then run this baby! It’ll be like the leaks happened on purpose! Awesome!
But we digress. Let’s not bore you with talk of energy and leaks, let’s talk THEME PARK!
Now this is just preliminary brainstorming, but we’re thinking a great name would be something like “Slick City!” Nice, right? Maybe even add to that a catchy tagline – something like The Family Friendly Pipeline Spill! We can even have animal characters wandering around the park, with maybe some kind of funky gel-like oil in their fur and feathers so it looks all cool and shiny like. There will be a Fossil Fuel Palace, made out of shiny coal! I can even envision a theatre area where an oiled down animal mascot version of the musical Grease is performed. Is it just me, or are people going to pay some serious coin to see that?
And the rides? How about a ride like “Shutting down the science!” You can have these carts that go around a track, and the riders have these light guns that shoot at things for points. For instance, they can shoot at all the nasty scientists who want to report on their work, or shoot at research centers that might be making inconvenient discoveries. Ha ha, just kidding – I’m just throwing ideas out there, but you get the picture right?
We also need a giant slide ride of somesort. What if we design the slide so that it followed the same curve as the hockey stick graph? And what if we call it the Carbonator or something cool like that?
And the big ticket item? Obviously, this will be an epic roller coaster. Perhaps one made to look like a big old pipeline. We could even make it from real pipeline parts! Don’t we get discounts for those kinds of things? As well, this ride is going to be amazing: it’s going to be the future of log rides. Instead of logs, the folks could sit in oil barrels, and instead of traveling through water, maybe those barrels would even go faster in a petroleum based fluid. Extra bonus if we get to light it on fire!
This is totally a goldmine of an opportunity. It’s like the ideas are just flowing and the theme park is creating itself! FRIED FOOD! Whoa. That one came out of nowhere! Seriously folks, we’ve hit oil here and it’s a gusher!
(Image by D.Ng, text originally published at Boing Boing)