Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Literary Warrant [6]

  • Luís M. A. Bettencourt et al., Growth, Innovation, Scaling, and the Pace of Life in Cities, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 16, 2007)

    "Humanity has just crossed a major landmark in its history with the majority of people now living in cities. Cities have long been known to be society’s predominant engine of innovation and wealth creation, yet they are also its main source of crime, pollution, and disease. The inexorable trend toward urbanization worldwide presents an urgent challenge for developing a predictive, quantitative theory of urban organization and sustainable development. Here we present empirical evidence indicating that the processes relating urbanization to economic development and knowledge creation are very general, being shared by all cities belonging to the same urban system and sustained across different nations and times. Many diverse properties of cities from patent production and personal income to electrical cable length are shown to be power law functions of population size with scaling exponents, {beta}, that fall into distinct universality classes...."—Abstract.

  • Catherine Brahic, High-Risk Air Routes for Invasive Species Revealed, New Scientist Environment (April 11, 2007)

    "A new study of how the global airline network connects far-flung regions with similar climates may help pinpoint flights most at risk of unwittingly importing invasive species."

  • Robert D. Bullard et al., Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987—2007 (A Report Prepared for the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries)

    "Twenty years after the release of the Toxic Wastes and Race report, racial and socioeconomic disparities persist in the distribution of the nation's commercial hazardous waste facilities. The conclusions of the 1987 Report are similar to those of our updated report. In fact, in Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty report you will read that 'people of color are found to be more concentrated around hazardous waste facilities than previously shown.' You will see that race matters. Place matters too. Unequal protection places communities of color at special risk. And polluting industries still follow the path of least resistance, among other findings."—Preface.

  • Augustin Colette, Climate Change Consultant, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage (1997)

    "The UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) initiated an assessment of the impacts of climate change on World Heritage in 2005, after the World Heritage Committee noted that 'the impacts of climate change are affecting many and are likely to affect many more World Heritage properties, both natural and cultural in the years to come'.... The outcome of this work has shown that it is timely to develop and implement appropriate management responses to protect World Heritage in the face of climate change. The solutions to global warming are the subject of continuing debate. Some of these measures, beyond the scope of the World Heritage Convention, are discussed under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). But although climate change is a global challenge, there are many adaptation and preventive measures that can be taken at the local scale, i.e. at the level of the World Heritage sites."—Introduction.

  • Francisco Donez, Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley, Black Rocks, Brown Clouds and the Borderlands: Air Quality and the Making of the Big Bend (2007)

    "This paper concerns the making of a place, specifically the Big Bend region of the Texas-Mexico border. As an entry point, it examines the unexpected phenomenon of air pollution in this rural region and the ways in which this environmental impetus has spurred actions, at various scales, to preserve the Big Bend's 'character' and economy. The mobilizations over Big Bend air quality at several scales can be seen as moves to preserve the construction of this region as a pristine, rural pocket of the American West, rather than as part of the urbanized, tainted U.S.-Mexico borderlands. However, geographic and economic realities act to pull the Big Bend more deeply into the borderlands. In this way, issues of air pollution become part of the struggle to construct this region as unique, clean and precious in the face of some uncomfortable geographic realities."—Abstract.

  • Environmental Law Institute, Lasting Landscapes: Reflections on the Role of Conservation Science in Land Use Planning (2007)

    "Land use and development decisions made at the local, county, and state levels have a significant and cumulative effect on the conservation of native species diversity. Through their planning and local regulatory powers, land use planners and local elected officials have the ability to influence the types, extent, and arrangement of land uses across the landscape. These patterns can have a profound influence on the viability of biodiversity far beyond municipal boundaries. However, while many planners express interest in using their tools to conserve habitat, they frequently do not have access to the scientific information necessary to integrate ecological principles into their decision-making. And, currently the barriers to incorporating conservation science into planning remain formidable. This report brings together nine of the leading thinkers in the land use planning, conservation biology, and conservation policy professions to explore how the field of conservation planning could be further advanced. Each was asked to reflect upon the role of his/her respective profession in promoting the use of science-based information in land use planning."

  • Nils Gilman, Peter Schwartz & Doug Randall, Impacts of Climate Change: A System Vulnerability Approach to Consider the Potential Impacts to 2050 of a Mid-Upper Greenhouse Gas Emissions Scenario (March 2007)

    "Over the past two decades, and especially in the last few years, climate change has become one of the most heavily researched subjects in science. Yet climate change impact studies remain at the low end of usefulness for policymakers and others; they are not predictive enough to be actionable because the exact nature of the events that will jar the planet in the near- and long-term future—the wheres, whens, and hows of climate change—remains both unknown and unknowable. This paper offers policymakers an alternative approach to thinking about climate change and its impacts. Instead of starting with climate change and working out toward impacts, we focus on systems that are already generally vulnerable first, and then consider what the geophysics of climate change may do to them. This approach has two benefits. First, it limits the number of logical steps necessary for thinking about the impacts of climate change, enabling more confident insights and conclusions. Second, it cuts across analytic stovepipes and gives regional specialists a framework for thinking about what climate change will mean for their particular areas, based on expertise they already have."—Abstract.

  • Lawrence O. Gostin & Benjamin E. Berkman, Pandemic Influenza: Ethics, Law, and the Public's Health (Georgetown Law Faculty Working Papers) 59 Admin. L. Rev. 121 (2007)

    "Highly pathogenic Influenza (HPAI) has captured the close attention of policy makers who regard pandemic influenza as a national security threat. Although the prevalence is currently very low, recent evidence that the 1918 pandemic was caused by an avian influenza virus lends credence to the theory that current outbreaks could have pandemic potential. If the threat becomes a reality, massive loss of life and economic disruption would ensue. Therapeutic countermeasures (e.g., vaccines and antiviral medications) and public health interventions (e.g., infection control, social separation, and quarantine) form the two principal strategies for prevention and response, both of which present formidable legal and ethical challenges that have yet to receive sufficient attention. In part II, we examine the major medical countermeasures being being considered as an intervention for an influenza pandemic. In this section, we will evaluate the known effectiveness of these interventions and analyze the ethical claims relating to distributive justice in the allocation of scarce resources. In part III, we will discuss public health interventions, exploring the hard tradeoffs between population health on the one hand and personal (e.g., autonomy, privacy, and liberty) and economic (e.g., trade, tourism, and business) interests on the other. This section will focus on the ethical and human rights issues inherent in population-based interventions. Pandemics can be deeply socially divisive, and the political response to these issues not only impacts public health preparedness, but also reflects profoundly on the kind of society we aspire to be."—Introduction.

  • Molly E. Hellmuth et al., Climate Risk Management in Africa: Learning from Practice (International Research Institute for Climate and Society [IRI], Columbia University, Climate and Society Pubs. Series, no. 1) (2007)

    "The inaugural issue...describes current efforts that are helping societies better adapt, and shows that when climate information successfully reaches vulnerable populations, it can be used to improve livelihoods and economies, and even save lives. The report was launched on January 30th during a special session of the 8th African Union Heads-of-State Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It details five examples of how climate risks are being effectively managed in Africa."

  • Fen Montaigne, Still Waters: The Global Fish Crisis, National Geographic (April 2007)

    "The Mediterranean may lose its wild bluefin tuna. High-tech harvesting and wasteful management have brought world fish stocks to dangerous lows. This story explores the fish crisis—as well as the hope for a new relationship between man and the sea."

  • Lyria Bennett Moses, Recurring Dilemmas: The Law’s Race to Keep Up With Technological Change (University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series, Working Paper 21) (April 2007)

    "Although not every technology generates litigation and legal scholarship, technological change is often the occasion for legal problems. Metaphors of law's struggle to keep up with technology reflect the law’s failure to cope with technological change. These metaphors have been used in contexts as diverse as railroads, in vitro fertilization, computers, and the Internet. This article seeks to understand why technological change poses such difficulties for the law. It describes four common types of legal problems that arise from technological change: (1) the potential need for laws to ban, restrict or, alternatively, encourage a new technology; (2) uncertainty in the application of existing legal rules to new practices; (3) the possible over-inclusiveness or under-inclusiveness of existing legal rules as applied to new practices; and (4) alleged obsolescence of existing legal rules.

    "Using this classification, the Article considers the problem of designing a legal system able to cope in a rapidly changing technological environment. It analyzes the idea of 'technological neutrality' as a technique of statutory drafting designed to ensure that statutes are able to operate fairly and effectively in diverse technological contexts. It demonstrates that, while such techniques might ensure proper treatment of existing technologies, they are ineffective in a changing technological environment. Instead of focusing on drafting techniques, a broader institutional context is required. The goal should not be technology-neutral legislation, but rather a legal system that continues to treat different technologies fairly and effectively as technology evolves."—Abstract.

    This paper was first discussed at the Law and Technology Theory blog, which seems to be languishing these days.

  • Max Schulz, Energy and the Environment: Myths and Facts

    The Manhattan Institute's Center for Energy and the Environment "sought...to determine what Americans believe about energy and environmental issues. We report here on the answers given by 1,000 Americans, chosen to be representative of public opinion generally, on matters such as the sources of U.S. energy supply, the extent of the oil supply, the rate of global warming, and trends in atmospheric pollution. Our poll was taken at a time—the summer of 2006—when, because of a sharp increase in the price of gasoline, public interest in energy and environmental issues was particularly keen.

    "The survey found that the views that Americans hold about a wide range of these issues are, in key ways, inaccurate. Significant numbers of people appear to misunderstand such crucial matters as:

    • The types of fuel that are the main sources of energy

    • The main uses of energy supplies

    • Which countries supply the U.S. with the most oil

    • The extent of oil reserves

    • The rate of global warming

    • The terms of the Kyoto Protocol international environmental treaty

    • The environmental record of nuclear power plants

    • The extent of urban air pollution

    • The effects of conservation and increases in energy efficiency"
    —Executive Summary.

  • United States Department of Commerce, National Climatic Data Center, Climate of 2007—March in Historical Perspective (April 12, 2007)

    "March Temperatures Second Warmest on Record for U.S.—March 2007 was more than five degrees F warmer than average throughout the contiguous U.S., making it the second warmest March on record, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Precipitation was above average in much of the center of the nation, while the Southeast and much of the West were drier than average."—Major Highlights.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Trends in Selected Manufacturing Sectors: Opportunities and Challenges for Environmentally Preferable Energy Outcomes (Final Report) (March 2007)

    "The objective of this report is to assist the Sector Strategies Division (SSD) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in developing strategies to promote environmentally preferable outcomes with respect to energy consumption in 12 industrial manufacturing sectors. For the purposes of this analysis, environmentally preferable energy outcomes are achieved by reductions in energy-related air emissions through increased energy efficiency (which reduces fuel consumption and associated emissions) and/or transitioning to less emissions-intensive energy sources. This analysis focuses primarily on emissions of criteria air pollutants (CAPs), but it also includes some projections of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Other air emissions, such as air toxics, and water and land impacts are not included."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports (April 16, 2007)

    "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the national greenhouse gas inventory, which finds that overall emissions during 2005 increased by less than one percent from the previous year. The report, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005, was published after gathering comments from a broad range of stakeholders across the country."—Press release.

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Blogger Luis Villa said...

Ooh, thanks for the 'Recurrent Dilemmas' link- looks right up my alley.

4/19/2007 7:18 AM  

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