Saturday, October 09, 2010

Creating a new class of packaging material

Eben Boyer, product designer, talks about creating a new class of packaging material by using a living organism called mycelium. The idea is to reduce petroleum-based packaging and the toxic waste building up across the planet. One of the most important outcomes may be the ability to use local materials or feedstocks.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

What is the 'best' climate for us?

For the past couple of years or so a number of articles have appeared about how people make decisions and process information. Many of the articles were written because of the seeming inability of a large number of Americans to grasp a basic understanding of climate change, let alone believe it's “real.”

Of course the deliberate misinformation by the fossil fuel industry and its assorted front groups has made it difficult, perhaps starting with a particular White House consultant in the first George Bush administration.

Frank Luntz, the consultant, was quoted in a memo back in 2003 as saying, “A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth.” He was the person that told the Bush administration that they should not use the phrase “global warming.” It would only scare the public and not be helpful to George Bush' presidency Luntz said.
The reality has been, however, that scientists, journalists, and environmentalists in general have not done a very good job explaining climate change in a clear, concise manner, thus many of the articles on the manner of “climate” thinking.

A particularly good article published in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society covers in some detail how humans make judgments and decisions when contemplating complex and uncertain problems. The paper is divided into (1) sampling, (2) framing, (3)comprehension, and (4) consensus building. The article provides illustrations and suggestions for those individuals responsible for explaining to non-scientists about global warming, climate change, and why it matters a great deal. See The Psychology of Global Warming.

An excellent, just released, presentation entitled “Climate Change Science” and sponsored by the American Chemical Society is well worth watching. The presenters, Michael McElroy, Professor of Environmental Science, James McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science, and Robert Socolow, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering ought not to be missed. It's an audio presentation with accompanying slides.

The presentation is not for the casual observer, but well worth the time of anyone responsible for explaining the complexity of climate change to the public in general—and probably to a great many politicians. Go to
Climate Change Science (Michael McElroy)

James McCarthy

John Christy

Robert Socolow

Forum on Climate Change Science and Consequences (to download material if Flash not available)


Thirteen municipalities and Kansas City

Photo credit: Molecular Model/jscreationzs/