Views from the Edge

Museums at a Crossroads

One thing is constant in today’s modern world—change. One institution that is changing are museums as they open up to the web and digital media.

Communitas

Co-housing is a win-win situation with many co-benefits. As the baby boomers age, and lose their partners, co-housing is a viable alternative to retirement homes and nursing homes. As Anil Gawande points out in his thoughtful book, Being Mortal, “our most cruel failure is how we treat the sick and the aged. .

Follow the Utopian Fantasy

This episode of CBC Radio’s Ideas, featuring clips from The Enright Files, explores some great ideas on how we can improve “our communities, our countries, and our quality of life”. It opens with an interview with Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian and author, who discusses basic income and how wealthy western societies have become complacent.

Climate Leaders Everywhere

A local energy company in Vermont, Green Mountain Energy, is leading the transformation of an electric system that depends on power sent along big transmission lines to a community-, home- and business-based energy system for both economic and environmental reasons. As a practical matter, the less electricity the utility pulls from the regional transmission system, especially at times of peak demand, the less it has to pay in fees, producing savings it can pass on to customers.

Continuing the Climate Conversation

Following up on my last blog, a new study has been released that talks about two narratives about climate change that appeals to a broad cross-section of the political spectrum and more importantly reduced skepticism among the centre-right. What’s the secret, focusing on avoiding waste as a critical part of saving energy, and appealing to patriotic support for the UKs flourishing low-carbon energy technologies.

Climate Innovations

I have been having a discussion with a dear friend and colleague, Susan Tanner, former president of Friends of the Earth and a fearless environmentalist. She feels, and she is right, that we are in dire straits when it comes to climate change impacts, and although I agree with her, we don't agree on the best way to stimulate greater action.

Clever Corvids

After testing 5 captive ravens, a team of Swedish researchers at Lund University believe this clever corvid species considers the future. According to this Guardian article, the ravens completed a series of tests centered on two tasks not typical in the wild. Not only did they learn how to use tools but also figured out how to barter with humans. In one experiment, they determined which tool could be dropped down a tube to release a tasty treat.

Why the SDGs alone aren’t enough

There is a new metric when it comes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: the ‘spillover effects’ of each country on the world at large. These spillover effects include pollution, financial secrecy, and contribution to peace abroad. Since these effects are accounted for outside of a country’s borders, they are not represented by national statistics. A country might rank very highly when judged only by its own statistics (such as the US and Switzerland), but this is a lopsided view when looked at in a global context.

Greater Climate Action

This interesting article talks about the problem with climate doomsday reporting and how to move beyond it, in a series of interviews by Desmog Canada. To read the article on-line, click here or to download it, click here. Here are three steps to move beyond despair to hope and action.

1. Positivity ratio of 3:1

Sentiment Analysis: adding the qualitative to the quantitative

One of the challenges of analysing textual data in the social-sciences or humanities is that data often requires a binary categorization: does it fall into this box, or that box? This can be a tough call to make, especially when working with data that needs that extra bit of context to be interpreted. And if your data set is too huge to be read through with that level of care, you might want to use a computer to answer some quick questions and give you the gist of it (by making a word cloud, for instance).