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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

A little off topic – but it’s Blog Action day and this year’s topic is Climate Change.

I’m going to point to Tim O’Reilly’s post on the subject because his happened to be the blog that reminded me it was blog action day and he’s a smart guy who’s opinion I respect.

Back in January, I wrote a blog post summarizing my position on climate change. Entitled Pascal’s Wager and Climate Change, the post makes the argument that even if you’re a skeptic about climate change or humanity’s role in causing it, the risks of ignoring the issue are great, and the benefits from addressing it are significant even if scientists are completely wrong about the causes

I don’t have a lot to add. Beyond voicing my agreement. My reading of the evidence is that human caused global climate change is real and serious. I think it is one of the biggest problems facing us as people. Right now we’re nowhere near getting our response right. It needs a huge, concerted effort to address the underlying problems of energy usage and sources. I’m behind those changes, and I hope our governments get behind them too before it is really to late.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

October 15th, 2009 at 4:47 pm

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TransitCamp. What’s the word for the opposite of a bureaucracy?

TorontoTransitCamp describes itself like this:

An ad-hoc gathering at the Gladstone Hotel of designers, transit geeks, bloggers, visual artists, tech geeks and cultural creators passionate about transit in Toronto and the TTC. It is a platform for Toronto’s talented design community and enthusiastic transit users and fans to demonstrate their creativity and contribute to a better way for Toronto’s transit system. The content and ideas generated in this open unconference will be delivered to the TTC for their consideration in their work.

You can read a good background on the event here and register here.

This promises to be a very interesting development in lots of ways. It’s an evolution of the Unconference and BarCamp movements. What I find particularly exciting is that it is moving proven, if still new, concepts about sharing and developing ideas out of the tech world (where BarCamps are a big hit) into the ‘real world’.

Seems a lot of people are excited by the idea. TransitCamp has already received coverage on the blogs of WorldChanging and Boing Boing, which is the blog equivalent of getting a cover feature in Mother Jones and The New York Times.

An other interesting aspect of this event is how it’s all enabled using technology. This is no less than a full fledged mini-conference (or unconference) for around 100 people that was put together in two weeks flat with all the organisation that entails (sponsorships, venue, publicity, programming, press, catering…).

All of this was done by a group of enthusiatic volunteers using electronic communications to get it all done. There are plans to document the way TransitCamp happened and how the Internet makes this type of thing possible, which could be fascinating I think.

[disclosure: I'm one of many people involved in planning TransitCamp, mostly as 'the wifi guy'.]

Written by Patrick Dinnen

January 31st, 2007 at 2:14 pm

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Stephen Harper on Kyoto

David Akin, a CTV reporter, has the text of a letter on Kyoto that our esteemed (cough) Prime Minister apparently sent to supporters back in 2002. You can read the full letter over here. Here’s the section I found particularly fascinating (in a car wreck sort of way):

‘It would take more than one letter to explain what’s wrong with Kyoto, but here are a few facts about this so-called “Accord”:

  • It’s based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence about climate trends.
  • It focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life, rather than upon pollutants.


Seriously, in the same breath we have Mr Harper questioning the scientific evidence and then going on to imply we don’t need to worry about carbon dioxide emissions, after all CO2 is essential to life. Stupid or deceitful? You decide.

Seriously, water is essential to life, but I still don’t fancy the idea of living under water. Balance in all things, including CO2, say I.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

January 31st, 2007 at 12:51 pm


Optimistic science reading for new year’s day

Some really interesting reads over at The Edge annual question 2007, asking a huge range of scientists and thinkers ‘What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!’.

There’s lots of interesting stuff there and I’ve only read a tenth, I particularly liked George Dyson talking about the potential for a return to sail powered cargo ships:

The trade winds constitute an enormous engine waiting to be put to use. When oil becomes expensive enough, we will.

This is a fascinating example of the bright green thinking which says we can manage the environmental and energy problems we face without having to step back into the ways of the past.

Also: New Scientist article on modern sail powered ships.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

January 1st, 2007 at 2:43 pm

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We can only hope, after all the Grand-old-Torture Party just got thrown out in that country to the South, to be replaced by Torture-Party Lite admittedly, but it’s a start.

Actually, the Worldchanging to which I refer is the blog, book and book tour of the same name.

Worldchanging’s philosophy is probably well summed up by Alex Steffen, one of the blog’s co-founders, who says:

We find ourselves facing two futures, one unthinkable and the other currently unimaginable. My beat is looking for ways to create a future which is sustainable, dynamic, prosperous and fair — a future which is both bright and green.

Now that I can get behind. Tonight I saw Alex speak at the Toronto leg of the tour to launch the new Worldchanging book, and I was impressed. Inspired you might even say. Ed Burtynsky made a great co-presenter of the show, with a giant screen showing his genuinely awe inspiring photos of Chinese industry (and how often do we genuinely get our awe inspired?).

I have to admin I haven’t read the book yet, I would be halfway through already if I didn’t select the free-but-slow cheapskate deliver option on my order. If the book’s half as good as I hope though, everyone I know is getting a 600-page book shaped parcel this Christmas.

Here’s what the book says about itself:

From consumer consciousness to a new vision for industry; non-toxic homes to refugee shelters; microfinance to effective philanthropy; socially responsible investing to starting a green business; citizen media to human rights; ecological economics to climate change, this is the most comprehensive, cutting-edge overview to date of what’s possible in the near future — if we decide to make it so.

I expect to be thinking, and rambling in blog form, about this stuff more in the future. I can’t claim a great grasp on the environment or social justice or any related topic, but it seems to important not to try. I’m not alone in this thought either, here are a couple of locals that spring to mind BeSustainable and FreshBooks.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

November 15th, 2006 at 12:17 am