Holiday Reading, Christmas 2006
1. GM Files: Getting the Truth Out There
By Glenn Tong
December 20, 2006
… Worsening drought conditions around Australia have brought into sharp focus the need for new technologies to meet the challenge of global warming. The indisputable reality is that we cannot afford the indulgence of ignoring genetically modified (GM) crops amid this worsening crisis. Gene technology allows the production of crops that can be grown much more efficiently in drought areas.
Taking wheat as one example, at present 35 to 50 per cent of the world’s wheat is grown in drought-affected regions. The annual global wheat crop is valued at more than $23 billion. With drought affecting wheat supplies around the world, commodities traders are predicting record high prices for the staple. New research into drought-tolerant varieties could greatly increase the world’s supply of wheat in the face of harsher climatic conditions.”
Read the complete article here: http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/gm-files-getting-the-truth-out-there/2006/12/19/1166290544413.html
2. Getting Radical about Climate Change
By Gwynne Dyer
December 20, 2006
… Here’s the plan. Everybody in the country will get the same allowance for how much carbon dioxide they can emit each year, and every time they buy some product that involves carbon dioxide emissions – filling their car, paying their utility bills, buying an airline ticket – carbon points are deducted from their credit or debit cards. Like Air Miles, only in reverse.
So if you ride a bike everywhere, insulate your home, and don’t travel much, you can sell your unused points back to the system. And if you use up your allowance before the end of the year, then you will have to buy extra points from the system.
This is no lunatic proposal from the eco-radical fringe. It is on the verge of becoming British government policy, and environment secretary David Miliband is behind it 100 per cent. In fact, he is hoping to launch a pilot scheme quite soon, with the goal of moving to a comprehensive national scheme of carbon rationing within five years.
Read the complete article here: http://www.canadaeast.com/ce2/docroot/article.php?articleID=82069
3. Happy Feet director dodges conservative backlash
by Andrew Darby
December 16, 2006
Mumble the emperor penguin and star of the hit movie Happy Feet can thank his friend and creator George Miller for the heady challenges he faces in his fictional life.
Leopard seals are a normal hazard in the life of an Antarctic emperor, banishment from the flock’s protective huddle a little more unexpected. But squaring off against the evils of industrial fishing, as Mumble does in Miller’s film Happy Feet, might be stretching things a little bit.
The rites-of-passage film about a tap-dancing penguin, which has led the US box office for the past three weeks — grossing $US125 million ($A159 million) — has come under assault in the US from conservative commentators as environmentalist propaganda.
Questions are being asked about the truthfulness of the film, which opens in Australian cinemas on Boxing Day. Happy Feet’s alien enemies are industrial fishers ravaging the ocean; its surprise danger the plastic six-pack ring that winds up around the neck of one of the main characters. Mumble has to deal with such trials to help fellow penguins.
Read the complete article here: http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/happy-feet-director-dodges-conservative-backlash/2006/12/15/1166162320291.html
4. Mrs Adam Smith
From The Economist
December 7, 2006
Neanderthal man was a strong, large-brained, skilful big-game hunter who had survived for more than 200,000 years in the harsh European climates of the last Ice Age. But within a few thousand years of the arrival of modern humans in the continent, he was extinct. Why that happened is a matter of abiding interest to anthropologically inclined descendants of those interloping moderns. The extinction of Neanderthal man has been attributed variously to his having lower intelligence than modern humans, to worse language skills, to cruder tools, or even to the lack of a propensity for long-distance trade. The latest proposal, though, is that it is not so much Neanderthal man that was to blame, as modern woman.
In existing pre-agricultural societies there is, famously, a division of food-acquiring labour between men, who hunt, and women, who gather. And in a paper just published in Current Anthropology, Steven Kuhn and Mary Stiner of the University of Arizona propose that this division of labour happened early in the species’ history, and that it is what enabled modern humans to expand their population at the expense of Neanderthals.
Read the complete article here: http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8380326
I may add to this list over the next few days.