September 2009

Daniel Pauly, of the UBC Fisheries Centre, has a sad but compelling article in The New Republic. The basic message is a familiar one: governments have allowed, and even encouraged, the wholesale destruction of marine fisheries by industrial fishing fleets. While they contribute less to GDP than hair salons, they have gained disproportionate power and […]


There are many reasons to worry about the connections between climate change and drought. As temperatures increase, they change precipitation patterns for several reasons. These include changing the rate of evaporation from rivers and lakes, altering the composition of ecosystems, and other impacts. Forests, in particular, play important roles in the hydrological cycle. Some, like […]


In his latest book, Richard Dawkins points out a rather gruesome fact about angler fish, deep sea dwellers that use a lure to trick other fish into coming close enough to be eaten. The fish that end up getting eaten are effectively voting on the convincingness of the lures. This is a bit macabre for […]


Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood is a parallel story to her prior novel, Oryx and Crake. Set in two time periods with two narrators, it fills in a bit more of the dystopian world she created: one where the bulk of the horrors presented emerge primarily from the exploitation of genetic engineering and […]


NASAs Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) generated recently published data showing “that all latitudes of the Greenland ice sheet are affected by dynamic thinning – the loss of ice due to accelerated ice flow to the ocean” as well as evidence of “extensive thinning in Antarctica, affecting the ice sheet far inland.” This […]


Early in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Richard Dawkins raises the question of why the idea of evolution took so long to emerge. The basic concept that life forms change as successful ones multiply and unsuccessful ones die off didn’t require any technology to come up with. So why did it […]


One distinct advantage of electric ground vehicles is that they can reduce their total energy consumption by converting forward kinetic energy back into stored electrical energy: a technique known as regenerative braking. This makes them draw less power per kilometre travelled (especially in stop-start city traffic) and increases the effective range of any particular battery […]


The basic impulse behind synthetic biology is one that human beings have been acting on for thousands of years: the desire to make living things serve our needs and desires better. We’ve domesticated animals, seriously altering their genomes and behaviours in the process, and turned wild crops into agricultural staples. Now, people aspire to use […]


While Canada’s best effort at a carbon tax ended in failure, one worth about $25 a tonne seems likely to be adopted in France. The new tax is intended to be revenue neutral, with corresponding handouts to households (both those that pay tax and those that don’t) and corporations. Some expect the most significant impact […]

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The Walrus recently published an article entitled: “The Age of Breathing Underwater.” Written by Chris Turner, it relates to a number of previous discussions here, such as the recent one about being unimpressed with humanity, when it comes to behaving sensibly about climate change. It begins with a lengthy discussion about some of the life […]