Monthly Archives: September 2012

Science notes

Science is one of my favorite subjects, given it satisfies my insatiable curiosity.

Perhaps it is the way my parents fostered an interest in knowledge and reason, or perhaps it is because of the many experiences of finding extreme beauty in science, I am not sure. Rationally we must accept that it is thru science that humanity, is as it is to day, and once applied through Technology, has created wonderful things (if not some negative outcomes). this includes the ability for me to write this, and for you to find it. Many of us have avoided a great deal of suffering and extended lifetimes due to science.

Perhaps it is my belief that each of us is in a position to uniquely contribute to the “human endeavor” and all the life we share this earth with, that drives my interest.

Or perhaps is my belief that, complex problems are just bigger versions of the simple problems, that I dare to think I may be able to solve some “wicked problems”, and thus have set myself on a course to understand as much as I can, about everything that interests me and much more.

In part to make notes to myself, and since I have renewed my subscription to New Scientist, I plan to make regular posts on things I have found interesting. Most often what interests to me is knowledge, new to me, or science, which indicates existing axioms have cracks in them or whole new paradigms are required.

Let me know if you like the idea or appreciate what you learn and that will ensure my personal notes become online notes.


Forests and Climate Change

On Wednesday past I attended a presentation at the NSW Royal Society and a Talk “Climate change, regional drought and forest mortality: are we seeing a new global phenomenon?”

Speaker: Professor Derek Eamus

Professor Eamus – presented an interesting and well substantiated case that it was humidity in the canopy of trees that was critical to their survival not as commonly thought, Temperature and Water. He discussed how various factors influence each other and which factors are most important. Although not expert myself in this field I was able to draw the following conclusions, some of which I verified through putting some questions to the Professor on the night.

  • There is massive die-back occurring all over the world in forests even without human intervention
  • Humidity is largely conserved in the atmosphere as a whole, that is increased global temperatures, does not result in increased global humidity.
  • Normal weather relationships mean increased temperature, combined with reduced rainfall will cause a drop in Humidity in forest canopies and thus increased die-back.
  • Given that Humidity in the canopy is critical to tree survival;
    • Larger stands of trees are more resilient than isolated trees
    • There is evidence to support the concept of “Micro climates”
    • This is further support for the idea that coastal forests that run inland, help bring rainfall inland.
  • Soil health/depth/moisture is critical to resilience in forests.

In Closing, Professor Derek Eamus presented a well argued, evidence based comprehensive model to support his conclusions and was very professional in qualifying answers to questions outside his scientific specialisation. He demonstrated, that often false assertion that models are somehow weaker than empirical research is unfounded because these models we based on substantial empirical research. The models help extract the signals from complex data, enable us to ask “what if” questions we then test empirically, which will either strengthen or weaken the model.

Please note: these conclusions are my own and not that of the Professor and while I am well informed on the above subjects, I am not a professional scientist. Please follow standard scientific peer reviewed literature for a more in depth understanding.

Original Content – Anthony Muscio

Conceptual Model of sustainability

I am working on a “Conceptual Model of sustainability”. I am trying to build a simple yet all encompassing frame work that rather than Keep-it-Simple is Make-it-simple such that it can be applied to all the components of a system and system as a whole. Yes I do believe this is possible (but true – it is yet to be tested). Such a model can be applied to Ecological, social and economic systems. This permits people of very different knowledge and perspective to participate in transforming organisations to more sustainable ones.

I am happy to receive suggestions and references to others, that may have done similar things so feel free to comment.

The model should have the following qualities

  • Indicate existing non sustainable processes
  • Indicate how to transition to sustainable processes
  • Be scalabel
  • Allow black box modular structure
  • Include Reuse, recycle, life cycles wanted and unwanted outputs (waste)
  • Show how to integrate with other systems to achieve sustainable meta-systems
  • Encapsulate diversity resilience
  • Capture and control incident inputs and outputs such as sun and rain
  • Indicate the foundations on which the system stands and its dependance on these foundations
  • Easy to  communicate by telling a short story and building a framework or model that is easy to remember.

Please join my quest