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Creating Adaptive Policies: A Guide for Policy-making in an Uncertain World

Creating Adaptive Policies: A Guide for Policy-making in an Uncertain World | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

Creating Adaptive Policies: A Guide for Policy-making in an Uncertain World is the very first book to distill the principles of complex adaptive systems and adaptive management into practical guidance for policy-makers. It describes the concept of adaptive policy-making and presents seven tools for developing such policies. Based on hundreds of interviews from over a dozen policy case studies, this book serves as a pragmatic guide for policy-makers by elaborating these seven tools. It will be an invaluable information resource for technical policy-makers, politicians and their advisors, as well as for those studying politics and international relations.

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A $9 Dollar Bike Made of Cardboard | TheCityFix

A $9 Dollar Bike Made of Cardboard | TheCityFix | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

Urban cycling has become ever more popular and has even entered recent Armani advertising campaigns as a symbol of youth, fitness and sex appeal. However, no matter the shape or size of potential cyclists, Israel’s Izhar Gafni has designed a bike that can be produced for $9 and support riders up to 310 pounds. The best part of this not-quite-$10 bike? Gafni summarizes it well: “It’s made out of cardboard.”

Gafni, who received pushback from skeptical engineers in his paper-based endeavor, hopes that the novelty of this fibrous bicycle will indeed be less novelty and more reality. “It always excites me to take negligible materials and then turn them into something completely different; something useful,” said the inventor in a promotional video documenting the creation process. Gafni notes in the video that he drew his initial inspiration for the cardboard-bike from a similar effort to create a canoe out of cardboard.

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Greenland ice sheet melted at unprecedented rate during July - environmentalresearchweb

Scientists at Nasa admitted that they thought satellite readings were a mistake after images showed 97% surface melt over four days (from the Guardian)...
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Nepal – An Opportunity for Regeneration Permaculture Research Institute

Nepal – An Opportunity for Regeneration Permaculture Research Institute | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

Hence the demographic of rural Nepal is increasingly moving toward a population characterized by an aging populace with a small number of parents and young children — a demographic seen around the developing world. Indeed, in the late 2000s the population of cities became greater than the population of rural areas for the first time in human history.

The causes of this rural dilemma are complex and multi faceted and I won’t try to pretend I understand it in any real depth. I will however repeat with relative accuracy what was told to me by the staff of SADP, who have great experience in the causal effects of the aforementioned ‘population dislocation’. What it boils down to at the core is the basic drive for the population to raise their standard of living. When queried, farmers have consistently made it clear to SADP that if there was a way of making a dignified living on the land they would rather stay on the land than travel abroad or move to the cities. This sentiment holds true for all members of the population, including the young men and women of the valley. As it happens, research undertaken by SADP has found that there is huge demand for organic produce in the large towns and cities of Nepal, what is lacking is the supply base.

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Blackberries fruiting at record late time of the year

Blackberries fruiting at record late time of the year | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
Rowan and elderberry also affected as dismal weather delays wild trees and shrubs' fruiting season...
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We Can Reforest the Earth

We Can Reforest the Earth | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
By Lester R. Brown

Protecting the 10 billion acres of remaining forests on earth and replanting many of those already lost are both essential for restoring the earth’s health.

Via Flora Moon
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U.S. Poverty Could Reach Highest Level Since 1960s

U.S. Poverty Could Reach Highest Level Since 1960s | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON — The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.
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Resource scarcity in Ethiopia

Resource scarcity in Ethiopia | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

Global concern is currently mounting all over again about the impacts of a more resource-scarce world, with particular attention focused at present on the risks of a renewed global food price spike following a spate of extreme weather in the US and around the world. Two weeks ago, corn and soyabean prices broke the record they had set during the 2008 food spike, while wheat prices have increased by 50% over the last five weeks.

These global trends have the potential to cause massive problems for a country like Ethiopia - where wheat is by far the country’s biggest import by value. And that’s before you take into account low agricultural yields and farm sizes, major exposure to drought, limited access to energy, and how these challenges will be magnified by high rates of population and economic growth, which will increase demand for resources – as well as intensifying climate change impacts

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David Holmgren on Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future Permaculture Research Institute

David Holmgren on Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future Permaculture Research Institute | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

Sometimes well-meaning ‘green’ people like to imagine that the eco-cities of the future are going to look either like some techno-utopia — like the Jetsons’ , perhaps, except environmentally friendly — or some agrarian village, where everyone is living in cob houses that they built themselves. The fact is, however, that over the next few critical decades, most people are going to find themselves in an urban environment that already exists — suburbia. In other words, the houses that already exist are, in most cases, going to be the very houses that ordinary people will be living in over the next few decades (in the developed regions of the world, at least). So while it is important to explore what role technology could play in building new houses in more resource and energy efficient ways, and while there is certainly a place for cob houses, etc., for those who have such alternatives as an option, the suburbs are still going to be here for the foreseeable future.

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Our current infrastructure was built for a different planet

It's easy to forget that every piece of our current infrastructure--roads, rails, runways, bridges, industrial plants, housing--was built with a certain temperature range in mind. Our agricultural system and much of our electrical generating system (including dams, nuclear power stations and conventional thermal electric plants which burn coal and natural gas) were created not only with a certain temperature range in mind, but also a certain range of rainfall. Rainfall, whether it is excessive or absent, can become a problem if it creates 1) floods that damage and sweep away buildings and crops or 2) if there isn't enough water to quench crops and supply industrial and utility operating needs.

This summer has shown just what can happen when those built-in tolerances for heat, moisture (or lack of it) and wind are exceeded.

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Chronic 2000-04 drought, worst in 800 years, may be the 'new normal'

Chronic 2000-04 drought, worst in 800 years, may be the 'new normal' | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, but those conditions will become the "new normal" for most of the coming century

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California ranchers hit by Midwest drought

California ranchers hit by Midwest drought | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

California ranchers may be hit harder by the drought in the nation's heartland than farmers in the corn belt.

Most corn farmers have subsidized crop insurance, a program so generous that farmers who lose their entire crop could wind up making more money than if there were no drought at all.

Cattle ranchers across the country, however, are seeing the price of corn, hay and other feed skyrocket as a result of diminished yield, forcing many of them to slaughter their animals now rather than later. Corn has gone from about $5.50 to $8 a bushel, and hay and other grains are following.

The drought "has a tremendous ripple effect," said Jim Warren, owner of 101 Livestock Market, a cattle auction in Aromas (San Benito County). In the last three weeks, the price of young steers waiting to be corn-fattened has plunged from $1.40 to $1.10 a pound, Warren said, mirroring the rising cost of feeding them.

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Teen Develops Less Invasive Means to Detect Breast Cancer | Budding Scientist, Scientific American Blog Network

Teen Develops Less Invasive Means to Detect Breast Cancer | Budding Scientist, Scientific American Blog Network | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

This year’s Google Science Fair winner, Brittany Wenger, 17, from Sarasota, Florida, spent more than 600 hours coding a sophisticated computer program to help doctors detect breast cancer using a less invasive form of biopsy.

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Infographic On The Energy-Water Collision: How Hot, Dry Summers Impact Water and Power Generation

Infographic On The Energy-Water Collision: How Hot, Dry Summers Impact Water and Power Generation | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

Every year, the United States consumes more than 3 trillion KWh of electricity. This power is generated by coal-fired power plants, nuclear plants, solar panels, hydroelectric damns, wind turbines, geothermal wells, and other sources and it requires water to produce.
As much as 41% of all water used in the United States goes to power plants to produce electricity, making them the single largest water consumer in the nation.
The relationship between water and power generation is complex. (A recent report featured on Climate Progress called “Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity” takes an in depth look at water usage, particularity in the coal and nuclear sectors.) A whole host of issues can emerge related to the massive water consumption of the energy industry. Many of those issues become exacerbated in particularly hot and dry conditions, much like the ones we are experiencing this summer.

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Shareable: Hacking Like We Give A Damn

Shareable: Hacking Like We Give A Damn | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

A recent LA Times article by Neal Gabler, “Welcome to the DIY generation,” serves as a potent rebuttal to the doomsayers. Gabler argues that today’s twenty-somethings are rejecting electoral scorekeeping in favor of the hands-on civic engagement:

The DIY impulse seems to start with the most basic politics of all: individual agency. If it takes hold it will be from the bottom up, translating a way of thinking into a way of doing. Already you can see DIY politics in action, not just in young people camping outside City Hall but in their joining service organizations and NGOs where they can do good and seemingly apolitical—or at least extra-governmental—work. They don’t abide endless debate and tit-for-tat strategies that result in gridlock.

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Dead Zone Down: Thank You Drought For Something!

Dead Zone Down: Thank You Drought For Something! | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

This year, the "dead-zone," a patch of oxygen-starved water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, is the fourth smallest ever recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The dead-zone is still larger than Delaware at 2,889 square miles (7482 square km).
"The smaller area was expected because of drought conditions and the fact that nutrient output into the Gulf this spring approached near the 80-year record low," said Nancy Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium who led the survey cruise in a press release.

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Beyond the Millennium Development Goals

Beyond the Millennium Development Goals | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

How can we ensure the targets that replace the Millennium Development Goals lead to a future that low-income groups want? David Satterthwaite outlines five points to consider.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set up to make governments and international agencies focus on actually meeting the needs and priorities of low-income groups – by reducing, for example, extreme hunger and poverty, infant and maternal mortality rates, and the proportion of people without safe water and basic sanitation. Most of the eight MDG targets are meant to be achieved by 2015, although many won’t be reached by then. Now, more attention is being paid to which targets will be met – and what should replace the MDGs.

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When It Rains, It Pours: New Study Finds Extreme Snowstorms And Deluges Are Becoming More Frequent And More Severe

When It Rains, It Pours: New Study Finds Extreme Snowstorms And Deluges Are Becoming More Frequent And More Severe | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
As our climate warms, wet areas will generally get wetter (and dry areas drier). One of the consequences of global warming is the severity and frequency of rain and snow storms – fueled by the increase moisture in the atmosphere as the air warms.
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Learning platform on climate smart agriculture getting increased attention | CGIAR Climate

Learning platform on climate smart agriculture getting increased attention | CGIAR Climate | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security's (CCAFS) South Asia regional office recently began a Climate Smart Agriculture Learning Platform (CSALP), which aims at improving communication between scientists, policy makers, political leaderships, farmers and other stakeholders on best “climate smart” farming practices. This is vital in a region where one-third of the world’s poorest and malnourished people live. The learning platform publishes quarterly e-newsletter, organizes the Science-Policy-People Interface on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, and initiates discussions, with media, political leadership and other stakeholders on the issues of climate change, agriculture and food security.

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Europe looks to open up Greenland for natural resources extraction

Europe looks to open up Greenland for natural resources extraction | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
Melting of icy surface opens up possibility of extracting rare earth metals and gemstones, but many fear it could destroy the Arctic...
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Restoring Rural Communities Through Open-Air Coworking

Restoring Rural Communities Through Open-Air Coworking | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

What would happen if, instead of going to the city, people went to the wilderness to work? How much more could we accomplish in a situation of high technology yet low stress? By choosing to be alone and be inspired by walking through the woods? Or by the ocean? Or in the middle of a field?

In recent years in Italy, but also in other world contexts, we faced a depopulation of rural areas because people have abandoned nature, attracted by the strong image of the city, a symbol of wealth and opportunity. People left behind their knowledge of manual handcrafts to become individuals in large cities and take their place in a larger mechanism.

There were times when this mass migration toward the cities seemed necessary for survival, but now we know it’s not the only option. With the birth of the Internet those in rural areas have been given the opportunity to stay in touch with the world and, now, it can open up infinite possibilities that had not been taken into consideration.

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Most power restored after India hit by second, even larger outage - CNN.com

Most power restored after India hit by second, even larger outage - CNN.com | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
India suffered its second crippling power failure in two consecutive days Tuesday, depriving as much as half the country of electricity for hours.
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A guide to complexity and organizations | Harold Jarche

A guide to complexity and organizations | Harold Jarche | The Big Picture | Scoop.it

Complex systems have presence or participation of living creatures. They are living systems – that’s why they may change at any moment. Such systems are only externally observable – not controllable.

A complex system’s behavior is non-predictable. Here, it’s natural that there is a level of error, uncertainty and illusion that is much higher than in complicated systems.
A complex system may possess elements that can operate in standardized ways, but their interaction would be constantly changing, in discontinuous ways.

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Lucid dreamers help scientists locate the seat of meta-consciousness in the brain

Lucid dreamers help scientists locate the seat of meta-consciousness in the brain | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
Studies of lucid dreamers show which centers of the brain become active when we become aware of ourselves in dreams.
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Siberia ablaze: Raging forest fires engulf five Russian regions — RT

Siberia ablaze: Raging forest fires engulf five Russian regions — RT | The Big Picture | Scoop.it
Siberian cities are cloaked in smoke from raging wildfires whipped up by winds. The blazes are raging in five regions, covering an area over 22,200 acres (90 square kilometers).
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