Online mapping emerges as key tool for the UN and Red Cross in getting aid to areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
Hundreds of online map-makers around the world have pooled their talents to help relief agencies make critical decisions in the Typhoon Haiyan-stricken Philippines.
Thousands of social media images have been tagged, while citizen map-makers - dubbed “digital humanitarians” - have traced roads and rated typhoon damage for the UN and aid agencies.
Online mapping has become a key tool in Philippines relief efforts and disaster response drives around the world, with US space agency NASA issuing satellite maps showing typhoon damage in the Asia-Pacific region.
What’s the connection between Super Typhoon Haiyan and climate change? Despite the conflicting headlines connecting climate change to massive storms, the science really is unclear. And this is a problem that science writers need to be clear about. Tom Yulsman of Discover Magazine rounds up some very controversial and frankly terribly dishonest headlines about climate change and typhoons. Check it out if you have a chance.
Here in Pucallpa, a city at the heart of Peru’s logging industry on a major tributary of the Amazon, the waterfront is dominated by huge sawmills piled high with thousands of massive logs. They are floated in from remote logging camps, pulled by small motorboats called peke pekes, while trucks stacked with logs and lumber jam the roads.
A military officer stationed here to patrol the Ucayali River said that he had largely stopped making checks of the riverborne loads of timber, though the checks are supposed to be mandatory. In the past, he said, he had repeatedly ordered loads of logs to be held because they lacked the required paperwork, only to learn that forestry officials would later release them, apparently after creating or rubber-stamping false documentation.
In some cases, he said, loads of mahogany, a valuable type of wood that has disappeared from all but the most remote areas, were given fake documentation identifying the wood as a different kind.
“It’s uncontrollable,” said the officer, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Referring to local forestry officials, he said, “The bosses give jobs to people they trust and then take a cut of the bribes they get.”
Mr. Berrospi, who worked as an environmental prosecutor until August, recited a bitter catalog of frustrations. The local authorities are paid off by loggers to create or approve false paperwork, he said. On one occasion, he said, he was offered about $5,000 to stop an investigation. He reported it to a local prosecutor who specialized in corruption cases, but said he was dismayed by the response.
“Listen, in one year here you’ll get enough to build yourself a house and buy a nice car,” he recalled the other prosecutor saying. “So take care of yourself.”
Devastating account of terribly corrupt culture in Peru, causing government officials to get rich while ignoring rampant deforestation in the Amazon. U.S. lumber companies might (surprise!) be partially to blame. Via NYTimes
As for letters on climate change, we do get plenty from those who deny global warming. And to say they “deny” it might be an understatement: Many say climate change is a hoax, a scheme by liberals to curtail personal freedom.
Before going into some detail about why these letters don’t make it into our pages, I’ll concede that, aside from my easily passing the Advanced Placement biology exam in high school, my science credentials are lacking. I’m no expert when it comes to our planet’s complex climate processes or any scientific field. Consequently, when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts — in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review.
And those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change. Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a body made up of the world’s top climate scientists — said it was 95% certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming. The debate right now isn’t whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us.
On why the LATimes avoids publishing op-eds by climate deniers. Well done, LATimes.
A member of the Earth Touch camera crew who witnessed this horrific lion attack on a baby elephant sheds some light on this unusual & disturbing incident. Lions do not usually prey on elephants — but some extraordinary circumstances had pushed this desperate pride to the brink.
The American Meteorological Society released its annual “State of the Climate” report, a hefty, 258-page document chronicling changes in global warming data. Compiled by members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with 384 scientists from 52 countries, the report is used to set and influence domestic climate policy and distributes statistics that form the baseline for discussions of climate change.
This year’s report holds a wide roster of data—ranging from interesting to doomsday—and most major newspapers and wire serves at least ran something based on the report press release. But considering the importance, and acute detail, of the information contained in the release, the mainstream press provided a surprisingly limited amount of analysis.
Reuters filed a short summary, “Signs of new climate ‘normal’ apparent in hot 2012 report,” culling information entirely from NOAA’s press release, with one skeptical insertion framing the slowing surface temperature rise: “The decrease in temperatures has been noted by climate-change skeptics who question the impact of human activities.”
A surprise headline. The piece is in praise of Al Jazeera America’s coverage of climate change. Why? The new channel didn’t take the low road.
Bottom line: this was a great start. But just as encouraging as what Al Jazeera America discussed last night — climate change — is the list of things it didn’t do:
1. Provide False Balance.
Perhaps most significantly, Inside Story explored public opinion on climate science, and even presented differing views on climate policy, without once offering marginal contrarian viewpoints as a “counterbalance.” Ehab Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera America’s acting chief executive, has cited PBS as a model, and it showed. Other cable news channels have sometimes run afoul of this standard.
2. Focus On Politics.
Al Jazeera America focused on the impacts of climate change, with a complementary discussion of some possible ways of mitigating them through political action. Notably, no politicians were interviewed, as few politicians are credible sources of information on, say, sea level rise. Instead, the guests — Michael Mann, Heidi Cullen and Klaus Jacob — were all scientists familiar with the topic at hand. Television news outlets don’t always do this well: in 2012, 89 percent and 12 percent of Sunday and nightly news coverage of climate change, respectively, was driven by politics.
3. Show Weird Charts.
Discussing public opinion on climate change, Inside Story displayed two graphs showing recent polling. Both had proper vertical axes (starting at zero), showed accurate statistics and cited their sources. Previously, peer network Fox News has had some trouble with charts, maps and the like. They might want to compare notes.
4. Obscure The Cause.
Some attempts at climate coverage muddy the waters, but Al Jazeera America left no doubt that the phenomenon it was referring to is man-made. The segment treated the science as a “given,” and host Libby Casey made a point of mentioning the fact that a significant majority of scientists agree about it, as is continually re-affirmed by high-level research.
I used to be in journalism, so this to me is excellent news. WaPo was bleeding cash for decades, only kept afloat by the corporate owner’s education publishing and testing divisions. It’s kept out of the hands of terrible potential owners, such as the Koch Brothers or Disney (yes). I suspect no changes to reporting. Some changes to business model - more online flashiness, apps, dataviz, that sort of thing.
cazalis asked: Professor Richard Lindzen was on Al Jazeera's Head to Head recently. Did you see it? And what were your thoughts on the debate and his position?
Thanks for following me all this time. Lindzen is a researcher of atmospheric physics at MIT. He basically applies complex mathematical equations (via computer modelling [vs direct observation]) and makes inferences about the earth’s atmosphere.
His focus is atmospheric tides, which are similar to oceanic tides. Pretty interesting for about 5 minutes.
Lindzen is often portrayed as a climate denier, but this is not true. He regularly states that humans do affect long term temperatures by emitting carbon.
The main reason he’s called a denier is because he disagrees with the projected impacts from the well known science, models, and consensus. He thinks the impacts are overstated. He provides no evidence for this. His argument is strange, and journalists do not know how to parse his position. This is why Lindzen gets so much play - he has an obtuse argument sandwiched between big words.
He basically argues that since scientists cannot predict the future of climate with 100% accuracy, he will not predict the future ever, and therefore no one else should either. Sort of like saying we know snake venom is dangerous. But since we cannot predict what it will do to you with 100% certainty, we should not worry about it. It’s a very strange argument to make.
As far as I can tell, he has not explained or published his evidence for his argument. So, no one in the field of climate change takes him seriously. He’s great at PR though (thus his appearance on Head-to-Head). Also, journalists are (generally) very stupid when it comes to math and science. So, he takes advantage of this.