Archive for the ‘News’ Category


Information Wants to be Free

September 17, 2010

Philosopher Peter Ludlow (Northwestern) offers this nice analysis of the WikiLeaks phenomenon:

WikiLeaks is not the one-off creation of a solitary genius; it is the product of decades of collaborative work by people engaged in applying computer hacking to political causes, in particular, to the principle that information-hoarding is evil—and, as Stewart Brand said in 1984, “Information wants to be free.” Today there is a broad spectrum of people engaged in this cause, so that were Assange to be eliminated today, WikiLeaks would doubtless continue, and even if WikiLeaks were somehow to be eliminated, new sites would emerge to replace it.


A Rat Done Bit My Sister Nell

November 13, 2009

And water’s on the moon. Maybe we can send these doctor’s bills, air mail special, to the water on the moon.


Reaching No Consensus

November 3, 2009

The New York Times wrote today of a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences [original study here] on how the Mt. Kilimanjaro ice cap has declined 26% since 2000. The author of the NYT article, Sindya N. Banhoo, goes on to say the following in the second paragraph:

Yet the authors of the study, to be published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reached no consensus on whether the melting could be attributed mainly to humanity’s role in warming the global climate.

The pretty green is my contribution. Even after prettying it up, I think the language remains deceptive and fallacious. To that, then, I dedicate this post.

I don’t usually go to the source on news articles, but for some reason I felt the urge to do so in this case. One thing the NYT article doesn’t emphasize — it is mentioned later in the piece, but it isn’t the focus of the story — is in the abstract of the NAS study. To quote the authors:

The Northern Ice Field has persisted at least 11,700 years and survived a widespread drought 4,200 years ago that lasted 300 years. We present additional evidence that the combination of processes driving the current shrinking and thinning of Kilimanjaro’s ice fields is unique within an 11,700-year perspective. If current climatological conditions are sustained, the ice fields atop Kilimanjaro and on its flanks will likely disappear within several decades.

So first, it is important to note that the original NAS study is limited in scope to a discussion of the Mt. Kilimanjaro ice cap. What I think got me to look at the source was the implication by the NY Times that the authors of the study “reached no consensus” on whether the melting could be attributed to humanity’s role in global warming. It would strike me as outrageous if the authors of a narrow study on Mt. Kilimanjaro ice caps did reach such a consensus, so I had to see for myself.

Here’s what the original piece has to say on anthropogenic forcing…

Read the rest of this entry ?


Yulsman’s Back

October 15, 2009

Friend and Countryman Tom Yulsman is back on the blog circuit. Check out his revitalized blog at the Center for Environmental Journalism.