"It is the unhappy fate of the scientist today that he must play the role of Cassandra in the body politic, sending his fellow men to bed with nightmares in the hope to be heard in time."

- Arthur von Hippel, in "The Molecular Designing of Materials" (h/t @upbeatprof)

Monday, January 14, 2008

UNEP Maps the Anthropocene

You can get a random graphic of the day from the United Nations Environment Programme.
If you use iGoogle, here's a widget link. Else you can use the RSS feed .

It's a nice feed to follow if you like to think about, you know, the rock you are astonishingly hurtling through space upon.

I'm scratching my head a bit over this one: River fragmentation and flow regulation.

It "indicates the areas which are most affected by river channel fragmentation and flow regulation. River fragmentation is defined as the interruption of a river's natural flow by dams, inter-basin transfers or water withdrawal, and is an indicator of the degree to which rivers have been modified by human activity." The extent of regions where rivers are unimpeded is a bit shocking. (Note that the grey and pink areas are "don't know", only the very pale green are places where hydrology is "known to be in a natural state".) (Paging Dr. Tufte...)

Welcome to the anthropocene.

This picture is an example of why it bothers me when people are so adamant about "thinking local". A dam here, a dam there, this tends to strike me as fine. The idea that almost all the rivers in the world have been replaced by plumbing, on the other hand, is at least something that bears thinking about.

1 comment:

WhiteBeard said...

’Course there are all those confounding issues. A few are: H20 availability; proximity to areas where useful gain can be demonstrated; engineering constraints; expected service life. Biggest one I see is an unwillingness to have some issues “on the table”.