Monday, August 27, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

mosquitoes spread the disease

 During my teenage foray into science fiction I read a novel by Ray Bradbury by this name which scared my pants off. It is about a dangerous character Mr. Dark who comes to a small town with his maniac carnival. Sometime later I bumped into the original phrase whilst reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth in school: “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” says Macbeth.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hot temperatures cool economies and heat up conflicts in poor countries

A new paper by Melissa Dell, Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Olken in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics reveals that increases in temperature may have reduced the industrial and agricultural production of developing countries.

The paper examines historical fluctuations in temperature in countries to identify effects on economic outcomes. The researchers found three key results. First, higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries. Second, higher temperatures may reduce growth rates, not just the level of output. Third, higher temperatures have wide-ranging effects, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and political stability. The authors compared annual temperature and precipitation changes from 1950 to 2003 with aggregate economic output data. Based on the data, the researchers estimated that a one degree Celsius rise in temperature in a given year had reduced economic growth by about 1.3 percentage points on average.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Seychelles tops Ocean Health Index.

Global map of marine health index scores (Halpern et al, NCEAS 2012)

Seychelles and Germany have the fourth healthiest seas according to the Ocean Health Index which provides the first ever global benchmark of 171 coastal regions

The top 3 on the list are the US-owned Jarvis island in the Pacific, a grab bag of other US posessions labelled as USA Pacific Uninhabited Territories and Clipperton Island owned by France.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Into the Blue: Ocean Foundation offers Blue Carbon Offset

As a member of the International Advisory Board of the Ocean Foundation it gives me great pleasure to announce that the Ocean Foundation is offering the first Blue Carbon offset possibility.

The Foundation's SeaGrass Grow! project will be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions from the core activities of the 2012 International Seafood Summit. Seafood Choices to be held in Hong Kong from the 6th to 8th September.

As such, the 2012 International Seafood Summit is a premier, global stage-setting opportunity for advancing blue carbon, an exciting and emerging concept that addresses climate change and promotes marine conservation

The natural coastal ecosystems of seagrasses, tidal marshes, and mangroves take up and sequester large quantities of carbon. If these ecosystems are degraded or damaged by human activities, their capacity as carbon sinks is lost.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Publish AND Perish – a radical rethink of academic publishing

The business model of academic publishing is based on a double, or even triple, appropriation of public resources where universities pay for the research, writing, reviewing and even editing of journals, which they then have to buy back for their libraries, says the authors of a new paper entitled “The poverty of journal publishing".

In both its political economy, and its concern with ranking the productivity of academics through their research outputs, the academic publishing industry is at the forefront of strategies of privatization and accumulation of knowledge through intellectual property rights, as well as the measurement and exploitation of immaterial labour, says the authors.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Waiter, there's a fin in my soup!

As the battle rages on in the “Shark Wars” in Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, with surfers and environmentalists at odds about proposed shark culling, China has made an unlikely but momentous move towards shark conservation – it has banned shark fin soup at official banquets.

China, the world’s largest consumer of shark fin soup, has announced that it will take up to three years to fully implement the ban, but “given the right circumstances this could happen quicker”.

As many as 73 million sharks are killed worldwide every year, an astonishing number. Sharks are under particular threat due to their conservative life history traits which are slow growth rates, late sexual maturity, long gestation periods and birthing only a few young at a time.