Think disasters are unrelated? Think again!

Given the ever-increasing frequency of severe weather events, human-made catastrophes and epidemics, piecemeal and fragmented responses will fail to address root causes and may in fact compound the challenges, a new United Nations report argues.

The Interconnected Disaster Risks report analyses 10 disasters of 2020 and 2021, including the Amazon wildfires, the Beirut explosion, and the cold wave in Texas in the United States among others, and makes the case that solving such problems will require addressing their root causes rather than surface challenges.

“If we keep trying to manage disasters as isolated events, we will fail,” Jack O’Connor, senior scientist at the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, told Al Jazeera.

“Unless we change our approach to not only ask ‘what’ happened when investigating disasters, but also ‘why’ they happened, any preparatory measures we devise will not be enough,” said O’Connor, who is the lead author of the report.

Say it, again, Jack. After decades of scientists trying to convince folks just how interconnected societies, cultures, economies are becoming…nature and human-made climate change may finally push ignorant “locals” into understanding (1) how small the world has become…and (2) we may have reached the limits of passing the buck instead of taking some part of responsibility to act to cure whole problems. Finally.

Track wildfires around the U.S.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 5.47.02 PM

Monitor wildfires with our interactive wildfires map. The flame icons represent wildfires currently active in the lower 48 states and Alaska. Hover over a given fire to see its name, and if you zoom in you’ll be able to see the outline of the area that’s burning — the so-called fire perimeter. If you click within the perimeter, a window pops up showing the fire’s size in acres, the amount by which the perimeter has grown or shrunk over the past 24 hours, the fraction of the fire that has been contained and other data. There’s also a link to an even more detailed report.

As temperatures warm and large parts of the U.S. become drier, wildfires are becoming more common and widespread — a trend likely to worsen thanks to climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, as well as land use change and population growth. At the same time, population growth in and around lands that typically see wildfires may be responsible for increased losses from these blazes.

Worth checking out. Especially if you live – as I do – within a chunk of the prairie often threatened by wildfire.

Pixel

 
“Pixel” is a live show that combines dance choreography with interactive, 3D projection mapping. The show features 11 dancers and recently debuted at Maison des Arts de Créteil in France. In this highlights video we see excerpts from the 60 minutes performance which was directed and choreographed by Mourad Merzouki.

Wow! Something to watch for if the show travels to your neck of the prairie.

Apple reinvents the textbook with interactive iBooks 2 for iPad

Suggesting that physical textbooks are no longer the ideal learning tool, Apple on Thursday proposed a new platform and method of digital education: iBooks 2 for iPad.

Speaking to the press at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, said current textbooks are not very portable, they’re not durable, and they’re not interactive. He believes the iPad stacks up better, particularly with the new iBooks 2…

Demonstrating iBooks 2 on Thursday, Apple’s Roger Rosner showed off how iBooks 2 allows texbooks to start off with intro movies. He also quickly went across thumbnails for pages, and could skip across chapters.

Touting the new textbooks as “gorgeous,” Rosner argued that “no printed book can compete with this.” He demonstrated the ability to pinch into photos, and showcased 3D models of biological structures that can be rotated and manipulated in real-time — all of this interaction happens within a digital textbook in iBooks 2…

Continue reading

Cities moving towards Gov 2.0

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and a customer-service guru, was riding on a public train in San Francisco, California, recently when something common but annoying occurred: The railcar filled with people and became uncomfortably hot…

This was 2009, the age of mobile technology, so Newmark pulled out his iPhone, snapped a photo of the train car and, using an app called “SeeClickFix,” zapped an on-the-go complaint, complete with GPS coordinates, straight to City Hall.

“A week or so later I got an e-mail back saying, ‘Hey, we know about the problem and we’re going to be taking some measures to address it,’ ” he said.

Welcome to a movement the tech crowd is calling “Gov 2.0” — where mobile technology and GPS apps are helping give citizens like Newmark more of a say in how their local tax money is spent. It’s public service for the digital age.

A host of larger U.S. cities from San Francisco to New York quietly have been releasing treasure troves of public data to Web and mobile application developers.

That may sound dull. But tech geeks transform banal local government spreadsheets about train schedules, complaint systems, potholes, street lamp repairs and city garbage into useful applications for mobile phones and the Web.

The aim is to let citizens report problems to their governments more easily and accurately; and to put public information, which otherwise may be buried in file cabinets and Excel files, at the fingertips of taxpayers.

I see a bit of this coming my way. Our county government has an application in for stimulus/broadband money – and has a useful and navigable website designed to aid residents.

True – I don’t have to worry long about potholes since an exec in our highway department lives just down the road and doesn’t want to tweak his Corvette. 🙂 But, immediate access to several departments would aid ordinary citizens to support better service for us all. IMHO.