Saturday, December 3, 2011


My friend Lela Prashad on better using and integrating remote sensing for social impact analysis:
Beyond expanding access to remote sensing data and the ability for decision-makers and the public to use this data, new NASA satellite sensors could be developed and launched to provide multispectral imagery at spatial and temporal resolutions useful to humanitarian uses and decision-makers. A satellite like this would not need an extended expensive mission, such as Landsat, but could be a lighter satellite that could be developed and launched for a fraction of the cost. There have been concepts proposed over the last few years to dedicate a NASA satellite to urban and humanitarian purposes, including from our NASA research group at ASU, however there is not currently a clear path to propose a satellite like this currently within NASA. As more data have become available to understand both sudden and slow-onset crises that have massively multi-variate problems it has become increasingly important to integrate many kinds of data from multiple sources and from fine to course resolutions. Leading the way are projects like Global Pulse that are integrating these multiple kinds of satellite remote sensing data- from high spatial to high spectral resolution - with other numerical models and vector data from official (i.e. ground based sensor networks, governmental and NGO data) and new data sources (i.e. mobile phone data, crowd-sourced inputs, and social networking) in near real time for multiple audiences - researchers, decision-makers, and the public.

Promoting democracy via conservation:
[T]he team set out to create grass-roots initiatives. Local communities with direct ties to the land are more concerned about management of their resources than distant governments, the group reasoned, so on-the-ground conservation management is often more effective than initiatives that are centrally planned.

By paving the way for natural resource management and community involvement, the thinking goes, the conservationists are contributing to the process of democratization.

“The idea of conservation in Afghanistan may seem unrealistic to some,” the researchers write in a recent paper in the journal BioScience, “But hope is realism with its sleeves rolled up.”

The EPA finally releases its proposed new rules on industrial boilers and incinerators. The benefits vastly overwhelm the costs:
The E.P.A. had previously estimated the cost of compliance at about $2 billion a year, with health and other benefits of $27 billion to $67 billion.

“With this action, E.P.A. is applying the right standards to the right boilers,” Ms. McCarthy said in a press release. “Gathering the latest and best real-world information is leading to practical, affordable air pollution safeguards that will provide the vital and overdue health protection that Americans deserve.”

She said the new standards would prevent as many as 8,100 premature deaths, 5,100 heart attacks and 52,000 asthma attacks a year by 2015.

The American Lung Association encouraged the E.P.A. to move forward with the proposal as written, with no further delay or dilution. “It is past time to move forward with these lifesaving standards,” the association said in a statement. “For the past two decades, the cleanup of toxic air pollution from boilers has been delayed, allowing these industries to pollute communities across the nation.”

EU subsidies lead to overfishing. So the EU will continue to subsidize.

The “urban risk heatscape” in Phoenix.

Geospatially mapping air, water, and noise in Europe.

The GOP's war on public health and the environment, and in defense of the polluting industries lining their pockets:
Taken together, the REINS Act, the Regulatory Accountability Act, and the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act amount to a trifecta broadside on the very concept of responsible public safeguards -- affirmed during Republican and Democratic administrations alike, with bipartisan support -- that has served the country well for decades. It’s a GOP-led assault that would tilt the balance of governmental power even further away from the public good and toward the benefit of corporations and their profits. For a nation grappling with the ills of climate change, facing the imperatives of cleaning up industrial waste, and protecting public safety and health, these proposed bills take us in exactly the wrong direction: backward.

Tax the rich at a marginal rate of 70%:
It is an arresting assertion, given the tax-cut mania that has prevailed in these societies for the past 30 years, but Diamond and Saez’s logic is clear. The superrich command and control so many resources that they are effectively satiated: increasing or decreasing how much wealth they have has no effect on their happiness. So, no matter how large a weight we place on their happiness relative to the happiness of others – whether we regard them as praiseworthy captains of industry who merit their high positions, or as parasitic thieves – we simply cannot do anything to affect it by raising or lowering their tax rates.

The unavoidable implication of this argument is that when we calculate what the tax rate for the superrich will be, we should not consider the effect of changing their tax rate on their happiness, for we know that it is zero. Rather, the key question must be the effect of changing their tax rate on the well-being of the rest of us.

From this simple chain of logic follows the conclusion that we have a moral obligation to tax our superrich at the peak of the Laffer Curve: to tax them so heavily that we raise the most possible money from them – to the point beyond which their diversion of energy and enterprise into tax avoidance and sheltering would mean that any extra taxes would not raise but reduce revenue.

Free speech ain't free in Scott Walker's America:
Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay.

"I'm a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion," he said. "You can't really put a price tag on the First Amendment."

A wonderful reminiscence of taking photos on the NYC subway in the early ’80s.

NYC cops will eat your pizza. And they'll probably drink your milkshake, too.

Meanwhile, Alex Steffen has convinced me of the value of Twitter. His thoughtful, pithy, and provocative tweets over the past couple of days have been excellent. A brief sampling:
  • US env "realism": counseling patient w/ treatable heart disease on proper skin care, b/c cardiac risk might scare 'em.
  • "You can only survive if you lose 20 lbs." "But my centrist exercise policy will only drop 10 lbs." _______ Fill in the blank.
  • Car-dependent exurbs ARE incompatible w/ climate. Thriving cities, inner ring suburbs can be made CO2=0. Need to have courage to say so.
  • Right now, exurban conservatives are making climate action into an attack on capitalism, rather than a demand for changing energy use.
  • Talking "end of growth" plays right into Exurban Neo-con frame; don't argue referendum on capitalism, but systems for the new economy.

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