One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

How to stop desertification?

(cross-posted to UN Dispatch)

desert wallBuild a giant wall.  6,000 kilometers long.  Made out of sand.  Stuck together with bacteria.  No, seriously.

“The threat is desertification. My response is a sandstone wall made from solidified sand,” said Mr Larsson, who describes himself as a dune architect.

The sand would be stabilised by flooding it with bacteria that can set it like concrete in a matter of hours.

Take his word for it; he’s a dune architect.  And desertification is not something to mess around with.  It’s poised to affect over 2 billion people in 140 countries if left unchecked.  But with a gigantic, bacteria-reinforced dune wall, buttressing a “Great Green Belt” of trees, unchecked it will not be.  As long as we can figure out minor details like politics, funding, and where to obtain “giant bacteria-filled balloons.”

If this seems similar to ad hoc geo-engineering schemes of righting the climate, well, it does to me, too.  Except that I’m more comfortable building walls to stop desertification than, say, attaching tubes to giant zeppelins that pump the air full of sulfur dioxide to block the sun and cool the planet.

(image from flickr user John Spooner under a Creative Commons license)


July 24, 2009 Posted by | Environment | , , | Leave a comment

Climate to change to ruin art, in addition to livelihoods

flood-mugVia Blattman comes this consideration of the scarcely considered artistic victims of the climate crisis.  Two dangers loom for art: one, an increase in temperature will lead to an increase in bugs, which, um, like to eat the stuff that art is made on; and two, rising temperatures will make it even more difficult to protect artworks in the museums of tropical nations from heat and humidity.  I agree that these are very salient concerns, among the many unforeseen disasters that global warming will wreak, but I have to disagree with this musing:

There’s a lot of focus on the large-scale effects of climate change – desertification, flooding, etc. But I wonder whether the relentless accumulation of stories of smaller-scale effects is not, in the end, a more effective way of communicating the gravity of climate change.

If folks in places like, I don’t know, Fiji aren’t worried about their homes and entire country being swallowed by floods, then I don’t think the fate of paintings is really going to do it for them.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Environment | , , , | Leave a comment

The connection between James Bond and dead monkeys?

James Bond's next villain

James Bond's next villain

This guy asked, not me.

The most surprising thing about the newest James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” is the premise: not a villain or a syndicate, but the loss of an environmental service in a poor, developing country. The loss of freshwater resources in Bolivia causes local hardship and destabilizes a sovereign government, setting the stage for 106 minutes of unadulterated action.

Ohhhhh.  Environment.  Right.  And here I was thinking that it was that calling the movie “James Bond and the Tale of the Dead Monkeys” is about a good a title — and way more straightforward than “Quantum of Solace.”

(image from flick user dah under a Creative Commons license)

December 8, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Movies | , | Leave a comment

More Soy, or Cleaner Air?

(cross-posted at Dispatch)

Niki Gloudeman at MoJo’s Blue Marble blog has the scoop on a Brazilian plan to slow the rapacious destruction of Brazil’s precious Amazon.

deforestation.jpgThe Brazilian government announced this week that it will curb Amazon deforestation by 70 percent over the next decade–an ambitious plan that will be formally presented at the UN climate change conference in Poland this week.

Home to the world’s largest area of tropical woodlands, Brazil lost nearly 4,633 square miles of forest between 2007 and 2008. That’s roughly the area of Connecticut. Previous efforts to limit deforestation include a recent crackdown on soy production.

Brazil’s Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the plan should prevent 4.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted through 2018.

I like my soy and all, but I certainly prefer air without 4.8 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide.

(image from flickr user gidsicki under a Creative Commons license)

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Foreign politics | , | 1 Comment