Archive for April, 2011

Reflections on the Human Lake

April 17, 2011

Belated response to, and placefinder for, Carl Zimmer’s great article The Human Lake.

As the first commenter wrote: “excellent on so many axes”. Does what all science writing should do, regardless of the audience or context— communicates difficult concepts fluently, in this case making convincing connections between very different branches of biology.

And it managed something extra for me, when it took an entirely unexpected turn half way through. The piece first looks at some early history from the science of ecology, when a limnologist working in the 1930s named G Evelyn Hutchinson used a small glacial lake in Connecticut to further develop the pre-existing concept of the ‘ecological niche’.

So far so good.

Christchurch and Japan earthquake visualizations

April 8, 2011

Amazing stuff.

Anthropogenic Climate Change, Health and the Tobacco Analogy

April 5, 2011

Consider this statement: smoking is bad for health, and so is fossil fuel-derived anthropogenic climate change.

What a mouthful.

There are many striking parallels between these two public health issues, and of course areas where the analogy breaks down. On balance though, and with all the usual ‘health warnings’ about arguing from analogy, I think it’s a useful comparison. Either way, it seems to come up fairly frequently in climate commentary circles, so perhaps it’s worth a dedicated post here.

So— I will proceed to mercilessly flog the analogy. Like this blog as a whole, this is mostly for my own reference and is subject to additions/amendment at any time. That said, suggestions welcome. I’m sure I’ve missed lots.