20 Nov 2017

Monday funnies

Idiocracy was satire in 2006, but can we be sure it's not an accurate prediction of the future now?



H/T to DG

17 Nov 2017

Friday party!

I'm not sure if this is real but I am sure that some guys are dumb enough to do it.

16 Nov 2017

Success for the NorWeST stream temperature project

I got this message in an email from Dan Isaak, and I'm posting it here as a great example of cooperation over water data (and thus management):

Hi Everyone,

Just writing to thank the hundreds of professionals from more than 100 natural resource agencies in the western U.S. that contributed their river and stream temperature datasets collected over the last 20 years to help us constitute the NorWeST database. The paper describing outcomes from the 6 years of work it took to accomplish that task was just published in Water Resources Research and is available at the NorWeST project website, along with the temperature data from ~23,000 stream sites and high-resolution summer temperature scenarios that were interpolated among those sites. When the project began in 2011, the goal was simple—get everyone’s data organized and accessible in a comprehensive database to facilitate data sharing & recycling, decrease redundancy of monitoring efforts, stimulate collaboration among agencies, and enable new research on thermal ecology and stream temperature dynamics that would facilitate better conservation and management. That goal & the associated benefits seem to have been achieved as evidenced by the grass-roots user-community that has grown around NorWeST and the large amount of traffic through the website, which receives ~12,000 annual visits and services the downloads of hundreds of digital data products each year.

We’d be remiss not to also thank the grant funding agencies that made NorWeST possible. First and foremost are the Great Northern LCC and North Pacific LCC that started our small snowball rolling in the northwest before it gathered steam & grew organically thereafter to encompass the remainder of the western U.S. with additional funding from NFWF, California FPF, USFWS, NASA, TU, and EPA. Organizing thousands of data records would have been impossible without the consistent geospatial framework provided by the National Hydrography Dataset, so our thanks too to the joint EPA-USGS NHD development team led by Al Rea & Tommy DeWald.

A few fun facts about the stream thermalscape associated with the 2,500,000 km2 western U.S. There are 1,600,000 km of channels draining the area as represented by NHD bluelines, of which approximately 343,000 km are perennial rivers and streams. The average August temperature during the period of 1993–2011 in those perennial streams was 14.2°C (SD = 4.0°C) but with climate change related air temperature increases and summer flow decreases, streams have been warming at the rate of 0.17°C/decade since the mid 1970s and are now ~0.7°C warmer than they were. To facilitate conservation planning efforts as that warming trend continues for the foreseeable future, 36 scenarios representing historical and possible future stream climates at 1-km resolution are available as ArcGIS shapefiles at the NorWeST website. Additional scenarios are under development by our group and others to represent different seasonal periods, which is a straightforward task now that a robust database and statistical codesets have been developed.

The NorWeST notion was ultimately inspired by the community of aquatic professionals across the western U.S. that cares intensely about streams, rivers, and the cool critters they harbor. We hope our partnership with that community inspires similar efforts elsewhere to develop comprehensive databases, efficient monitoring networks, & models that yield ever-improving information for decision makers this century.

Best regards, The NorWeST Team (D. Isaak, S. Wenger, E. Peterson, J. Ver Hoef, D. Nagel, C. Luce, S. Hostetler, J. Dunham, B. Roper, S. Wollrab, G. Chandler, S. Parkes, D. Horan)

p.s. We’ll be replicating this crowd-sourced, open-access database business again soon for aquatic biodiversity in the western U.S. with eDNA datasets collected by many agencies. More on that this winter when the NFWF funded Aquatic eDNAtlas website & dataportal are launched (preliminary details here)

Fight Against Slavery seeks... slaves?

One of my students (now an alumni) sent me this:



I can't wait to see demand rise above supply (and thus wages above $0), but I do fear the twin forces of (1) too many college grads chasing jobs and (2) too many jobs being eaten by machines.

Your thoughts on internships and work?

14 Nov 2017

Announcing the best "visions" of Life Plus 2 Meters!

I've been running the Life plus 2 meters project for 18 months. The project uses fictional "visions" (chapters) of how we might (not) adapt to life in a climate-changed world to help readers think about their own futures.

The first book of visions, Life Plus 2 Meters, Volume 1, was published last December. It's free to download and cheap to buy.

For Volume 2, I raised $660 via Kickstarter to fund prizes for the best visions in several categories. After collecting the votes from 16 judges (some of them readers of this blog), we have winners from among the 33 visions submitted for Volume 2.

Best story
  1. Daniel Gilbert for A Marsh Arab's story
  2. Emma J. Myatt for Amplitude
  3. John Sayer for Data recovery unit - subsection culture
Best perspective
  1. Kalila Eve Morsink for Blue death
  2. Finbarr Swanton for All empires fall
  3. Ed Dolan for 2100: Hot, crowded and rich
Best by under 26 years old*
  1. Joes de Natris for Climate-charged democracy?
  2. Jack Cooper for Seventy metres and September
  3. Celia Daniels for We drown with history
Best by author from Economically Developing Country*
  1. Ignacio Carlucho for Dusk
  2. Anna Maria for Browsing pages
NB: All visions (plus a few late submissions) will go into Volume 2, which should come out in December. Please read as many as you want -- and comment if you can see room for improvement. The better the final versions that end up in the book, the more -- and happier -- readers we will have.


* These authors needed to submit evidence to be in this category.

10 Nov 2017

Friday party!

Rednecks racing Barbie jeeps? Why not?

9 Nov 2017

If Facebook is tracking us everywhere...

...to trick us into believing, buying or doing what its advertiser customers are paying for rather than what is best for us (our friends, events, or groups) then how can we protect ourselves?

I "quit" Facebook, but they are still keeping and collecting data on me, whether I am logged in, or not, whether I have an account or not.*

Perhaps my phone or computer will block some of the activity.

What other choices or actions are there?

As an economist familiar with the pros and cons of monopolies in the water sector, I know that Facebook is an abusive monopoly that is profiting from exploiting its users.** When will a regulator step in to protect us?

Your thoughts?

* Like buttons on any page are used to track you (see below), meaning that Facebook is not just collecting data on its 2 billion users but probably another 2 billion people on the internet, with perhaps the exception of China -- where even more data is collected by its domestic firms.


(And, yes, I did ask them to "delete" my account, but I am pretty sure they're still using my data.)

** The Economist's cover story: Does social media threaten democracy?

8 Nov 2017

Links of interest

  1. Is speciation outpacing extinction? Even if so, no excuse to not protect natural reserves
  2. "Utopia is a guess," so let go your ideals (libertarians here) and pay attention to facts (e.g., US lags on freedom)
  3. Journalists covering the story of "outdated levees" that may allow Sacramento to flood from (you guessed it) "unexpected river flows" should read my blog in 2008, when I was explaining how politicians were rushing to build houses in flood plains whose levees were never intended to protect houses. 
  4. The GAO says [pdf] that federal agencies need to better coordinate on collecting information and spending money devoted to improving urban and rural water quality
  5. The Adaptive Capacity Wheel can help assess institutions' adaptive capacity [pdf]
  6. Before there was mansplaining, there was Rebecca Solnit's 2008 critique of male arrogance
  7. From the opposite angle: "Menopause: take my advice and throw it away"
  8. Interrogation Interviews "only go well when both parties feel they are getting their fair share"
  9. The UN has advice on how to adapt water management to climate change
  10. A friend is in the Congo, taking photos and learning about WASH development
H/T to RM

7 Nov 2017

Trump fails America, Kaljulaid helps Estonia

Kersti Kaljulaid, a smart, helpful leader
Trump was elected about one year ago. He has done nothing that he promised and everything to gratify his ego and wallet. He's a corrupt idiot.

Americans are lucky that he (and the Republicans) face checks on their desires to make the rich richer, rape the environment, and destroy the public services that contribute to health, welfare and prosperity.

If you're wondering what a real leader sounds like, then listen to the President of Estonia:
As Estonia is undertaking the task of EU Council Presidency for the first time ever, how can we help/soften and overcome the EU’s challenges and not just fill in the spot but actually make a difference among the bigger countries?

We already have made a big difference by being small, flexible and not having any hierarchies at all...We have a reputation of understanding society differently. We also have a reputation for already having a generation living in the internet, therefore we get slightly better at cyber-hygiene.

While dealing with all of those digital issues during our Presidency, it’s extremely important to deliver the message that while every society will be digital, it will still be a different society. Estonian society is digital in one particular way and Finnish in another because the state is culture and this culture will be preserved while becoming digital. It’s not about seeking unification or harmonization in any way; every country will go its own way. And this is where we encourage the countries to adopt the view that we know – that in cyberspace there are also risks and there are crooks but we don’t want to abandon that space and lose out just as we do not abandon our streets. We do not want governments to be unable to use the technological space just because there are risks. We just need to teach our populations to be cyber-hygienic.
Read the whole, very thoughtful interview here.

6 Nov 2017

Monday funnies

I gave these guys $20 just to see what happens next:

2 Nov 2017

The World Bank on "new water challenges"

I named my first book The End of Abundance to signal to readers that changing water scarcity (in quality or quantity) requires new ways of managing water. (That's the same plot in my second book, Living with Water Scarcity, which is free to download :)

Now the World Bank has put out a book (Uncharted Waters) and series of comic strips (see below) on this issue. I recommend this to anyone seeking an easy summary or easier-to-share version of the issues, why they matter, and how to address them.

Shocks in the City



1 Nov 2017

Links of interest

  1. "Shamefully, it has never occurred to me to expect male colleagues to say or do anything about their friends’ more shabby behaviour [sexual harassment]. I have never seen that happen, not once, in my entire life."
  2. "Health care prices in the United States are both high and unpredictable"
  3. "Why the trial by ordeal was actually an effective test of guilt" Hint: Collective belief.
  4. "It seems... the primary reason to go onto news media or social media right now is to find a reason to be mad."
  5. A companion piece to the end of lead-printing is this on the history of typesetting math
  6. Life in the oilfields: "Put your head in the freezer and punch yourself in the face"
  7. The online mattress mafia does not like bad reviews
  8. Smartphones are killing Americans, but nobody's counting
  9. College advice I wish I'd taken
  10. The Seventy-Four Best Entries in The Devil’s Dictionary, e.g., "Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding."