the tools of our feline masters

Researchers have discovered cats use different types of purrs to manipulate their “owners”

On Twitter, @JohnPerryBarlow notes that “Konrad Lorenz, the animal behaviorist, claimed there was no evidence that cats were even domesticated.”

smart positive things

World powers accept warming limit

Developed and developing nations have agreed that global temperatures should not rise more than 2C above 1900 levels, a G8 summit declaration says.

* Human centred design kit from IdEO. Free, open source, field tested tools for social impact.

* Biodiversity protects humans from disease – scientific evidence.

* Wind power turbines can be built into existing power pylons. Very clever solution.

eternal moonwalk

This is both touching, deranged and utterly hypnotic.

Michael Jackson. If he didn’t exist, we would have had to invent him. (Of course, we largely did invent him, one suspects.)

Public Consultation on Climate Change

Sort of randomly went along to the Government’s Public Consultation on Climate Change at Te Papa yesterday. A good turnout, maybe 400 people or so, standing room only. Nick Smith put on a better show than I expected – had encountered him while making a submission on the Waste Minimisation Bill and was not impressed – and it was reassuring that the government is acknowledging the science requires a response now. (Maybe that is why ACT aren’t bothering to turn up to their retarded inquiry into the science.)

Smith got a pretty solid roasting from a crowd pretty clearly bent on much stronger measures than the government is currently countenancing – solid calls for 40% reduction in targets, in line with the science, the 350 line – and responded with saying we’ve got to be honest with what that means for people’s livelihoods and whatnot.

A lot of the public submissions were pretty great. One of the most interesting public speakers was a businessman who, through lifestyle changes, for the past several years has reduced his personal carbon footprint to the sustainable level for humanity, and found he saved a heap of money doing it. He then applied it to his business, likewise found that they saved a heap of running costs. Going green is economic sense.

Continuing a worrying recent trend, I accidentally ended up speaking, generally noting the limitation of their view (effectively “what can we cut out of what we are doing to meet emissions targets while still fundamentally doing the same things”) and emphasising the opportunity the converging crises (economic, social, political, environmental, peak oil) provide us for remaking our societies and lives in awesome ways – for the message of the moment is our lifestyle is fundamentally unsustainable, which suggests we need a different lifestyle. Engaging with the question of “what is the best sustainable lifestyle we can have for everyone” seems more use to me. And increasingly I think these responses are going to have to come from the community level rather than expecting leadership from above.

Sharing Power

Most interesting read on the net today: this post by Mark Pesce, exploring the interaction between social media and hierarchical power structures.

The 21st century will continue to see the emergence of powerful and hyperempowered communities. Sometimes these will challenge hierarchical organizations, such as with Wikipedia and the Church of Scientology; sometimes they will work with hierarchical organizations, as with Project Houdini; and sometimes it will be very hard to tell what the intended outcomes are. In each case the hierarchy – be it a state or an institution – will have to adapt itself into a new power role, a new sharing of power. In the past, like paired with like: states shared power with states, institutions with institutions, hierarchies with hierarchies. We are leaving this comfortable and familiar time behind, headed into a world where actors of every shape and description find themselves sufficiently hyperempowered to challenge any hierarchy. Even when they seek to work with a state or institution, they present challenges. Peace is war. In either direction, the same paradox confronts us: power must surrender power, or be overwhelmed by it. Sharing power is not an ideal of some utopian future; it’s the ground truth of our hyperconnected world.

Ant mega colony covers world

A single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world, scientists have discovered.

Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same interrelated colony, and will refuse to fight one another.

The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination

BBC report here.

Fascinating. The ants have been spread by human actions, enabling them to form a billions strong global empire.

Planetary boundaries and the new generation gap

This piece by Alex Steffen of Worldchanging is a really lucid coverage of the current planetary boundaries we can identify – the points beyond which the ecosystem will suffer radical damage and change – and the different attitudes to them. He gives a good summary of what is going on, what the issues are, what can be done, why it currently isn’t, and what we can and need to do about it. Best read of the day.

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