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The plight of polar bears continues as the climate gradually becomes warmer in the Arctic. Warmer temperatures cause the melting of sea ice, which is essential for polar bears to reach their prey, primarily seals. However, according to a recent study published in the journal, Nature, polar bears have a good chance at survival if humans significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
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There are universities filled with academic departments of all kinds: physics, math, sociology, music, political science, philosophy, oceanography, education, and so forth. You get the picture. We have these academic discipline-based divisions in America. Yet, statistical records that compare American education of kindergarten through the university level show that American kids today are less knowledgeable than their parents! How can that be? Don’t we have a National Science Foundation pumping billions into research and educational activities? Don’t we have associations like the AAAS, the AMS and the AGU to foster education in the technical disciplines?

The answer to all the above is yes; billions and billions of dollars spent over the decades since the end of WWII have gone into educating Americans. To what avail? Our national ranking nears the bottom of the other industrialized countries according to some objective set of metrics. There was an initiative a few years ago at the NSF called CDI (Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation). To my mind this was a great concept, an initiative to foster innovation backed by money (funding). However, I think that the NSF bureaucracy got in the way of its stated desire to seek out innovation and discovery by having uncreative people in charge of determining what was a creative concept and what was not.
[NB: the review committee is made up of heads of departments within NSF, tethered to the protection of their specialized areas of concern]. It did not seem that the NSF sought to leapfrog into the future for new out-of-the-box creative thinking but sought to infuse (or tweek) with a bit more cash what is already done in the way of research, relabeling new activities as CDI.

How can America improve the education of the next generation so that it is smarter and more creative than the present generation? The idea was suggested to me by the title of a book written in Europe about 20 years ago: “The Discipline of Creativity.” Maybe we need to think about how to create academic disciplines (or departments) along non-traditional lines: the Department of Innovation, the Department of Creativity, the Department of Discovery, and the Department of Improvization.

Students and their teachers and professors can earn certificates in, innovation, creativity, discovery or improvisation, along with their tradition BA, MA or PhD from a traditional, societally accepted discipline.

Personally, I think Sparetime University (STU) is one of those undisciplined non-traditional approaches to fostering out-of the-box thinking. It is not rocket science but is a way to share as well as create knowledge, free to the recipients, and taken in at will, independent of time, place and level of education. So, STU will foster the non-traditional academic disciplines of creativity, innovation, discovery and improvisation. Maybe this can help America (and other countries as well) climb back toward single digit rankings in various categories of levels of knowledge, including but clearly not limited to science and math.


The Nepal Conference is already over, here are some updates from the conference.

Newsletter Day 1

Newsletter 2nd Day

Newsletter 3rd day

Newsletter 4th Day

Newsletter 5th Day

Conference Declarations

Link to conference blog

Mount Merapi volcano has erupted for a third time, with local people reportedly saying this was louder and stronger than the previous eruption on Tuesday.

The latest eruption happened at around 0100 on Saturday (1800GMT Friday).

Agence France Presse reported that it caused panic, with hundreds of people, including police and soldiers, trying to flee in cars or on motorbikes.

Ash was raining down in Yogyakarta, about 30km (19 miles) away.

“I heard several sounds like thunder,” Mukimen, a mother-of-two who was fleeing with her family, told AFP. “I was so scared I was shaking.”

There had been a number of small eruptions earlier on Friday but with no casualties reported.

Earlier, officials said two people who suffered burns from Tuesday’s eruption had died from their injuries, bringing the confirmed death toll to 35.

At least 47,000 people who live around Mount Merapi are staying in government camps or with friends and relatives, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.

But there are frequent reports of displaced people returning to check on their properties or livestock.

Government volcanologist Subandrio told AFP the new eruption suggested the government should be “more serious” about enforcing the exclusion zone and possibly widening it.

Alert levels have been raised on four other volcanoes, two of which are definitely showing signs of activity – Anak Krakatau and Mount Semeru.

Transparency is the Answer, But… What Was The Question?

…It’s trust, not transparency, stupid!

“Transparency” performed by Luna Sea on YouTube

Source: IRIN
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.
BANGKOK, 16 September 2010 (IRIN) – As global warming shrinks glaciers along the world’s highest peaks, glacial lakes in Nepal are increasingly at risk of bursting the natural dams containing them – endangering the lives of tens of thousands in communities below, experts say.Read More

It seemed too sensational to be true. On Aug. 30, the Guardian reported that one of the world’s most prominent “climate change skeptics,” Bjorn Lomborg, had made an apparent about face, now calling for $100 billion to be devoted to stopping global warming. This is a man who, for years, writing books with provocative titles like The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It, had argued that climate change wasn’t as pressing as other international problems, such as child malnutrition and poverty. Now, he seemed to be saying that stopping global warming was an urgent matter after all. Had the Danish political scientist changed his mind? Was he admitting he’d been wrong? What would this new $100 billion be used for?

In an exclusive interview with FP’s Elizabeth Dickinson, Lomborg says his views haven’t budged an inch. Rather, he argues that the cap-and-trade approach of Kyoto Protocol fame has clearly failed, and it’s time to try a more creative approach — one that doesn’t involve wasting billions of dollars. “At some point,” he says, “we have to ask ourselves, do we just want to keep up the circus of promising stuff but not actually doing it?”

Read More…

Media and the public attracted to the extremes
Lesson 3

“I go to extremes” by Billy Joel from YouTube

A second landslide covered dozens of people on a highway in Guatemala Monday as they tried to dig out victims buried by a landslide the day before.

“A wall of earth fell on a bus and around 100 local people organized themselves to dig out the victims. Then another landslide came along and buried them,” said a spokesman for the local fire department Sergio Vasquez, according to Reuters.

Rescue workers had unearthed 22 bodies on a main highway northwest of Guatemala City.

On Sunday floods washed away sections of the Inter-American Highway, burying a bus and knocking several other vehicles off the road.
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BOULDER – Fire officials say new infrared mapping of the Fourmile Canyon Fire released on Wednesday reveals it is 6,168 acres. Five people remain missing.

Twenty people were initially reported missing in the fire area and authorities say they have cleared 15 of those cases, but five people remain missing.

“They’re open investigations,” Cmdr. Rick Brough of the Boulder County Emergency Management Office said at a morning news briefing. At the time eight people were reportedly missing. “Many of those are people who didn’t evacuate. What we’re doing at this point in time: We’re doing follow-ups with them, contacting relatives, sending officers up to do welfare checks at their residence.”

Authorities say three of the people were reported missing within the burn area and two others were within the evacuation area. One of those missing people, officials say, refused to evacuate.

Authorities say the fire did not grow overnight, thanks in part to cooler weather and an increased relative humidity.

The fire has been designated a Type I emergency, which means it is a national priority.
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