Innovation and discovery have always been a double edged sword. While our society and culture progress with new inventions, these same inventions can tend to create new problems. It’s a story as old as time. The printing press helped spread knowledge and educate the masses, but also provided a tool for propagandists. Nuclear energy has helped provide electric power to countless households without the need for fossil fuels, but has also allowed for the engineering of weapons of mass destruction. The list goes on.
In the 21st Century, the Internet has helped give everyone a voice; it has connected people and alerted them to injustices taking place halfway around the world, but it has also helped facilitate atrocities. In a recent article, the BBC has highlighted the dangers of sharing newly discovered species on the Internet. While we should rejoice in learning of wildlife discoveries, the article tells of a sordid twist of fate. Due to the rarity of many such species, writing about them can help them become objects of desire for limitless illegal wildlife collectors worldwide. While wildlife enthusiasts read of discoveries around the world, so do smugglers and traffickers.
This reality puts conversationists in a bind. It is difficult to raise money for new discoveries and conservation efforts without sharing findings but sharing findings can make their work more challenging. Some conservationists argue that listing species as endangered can seal their fate. The BBC article offers no solutions to the problem but we ask you: How would you solve this dilemma?
Read the BBC piece here.
With our increasing dependence on cell phones, it’s a wonder we ever did anything without them. Such a fairly new invention has become the most basic of utilities while more recently also taking its place as a main source of entertainment. It shouldn’t be too long before we are able to carry our phones as methods of payment (already in use at Starbucks) and as keys to our homes and vehicles. And just when they were perfecting the man-purse…
In an amazing exhibit of the good that can come from the synergism of internet and fun, University of Washington game creation FoldIt enabled gamers to reveal the structure of a long-researched protein essential to HIVs replication mechanism.
While scientist have been researching this protein for over 15 years without being able to identify its structure, gamers connected through FoldIt were able to reveal the structure in only 10 days!
The Putney School in Putney, Vermont is so dedicated to the idea of sustainability that it wasn’t enough to appoint roaming sustainability squads to ensure campus standards. They had to build the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified field house:
The field house, which was opened in November 2010, is certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum specification from 2009. The 16,800-square-foot facility, designed by Maclay Architects, uses passive solar design as well as 16 sun-tracking solar panels. Staff and student (and the general public for that matter) can watch the energy consumption in real time. Here are some of the other features that went into earning the LEED certification:
- A white roof that minimizing the “heat island” effect
- Low-water fixtures and composting toilets
- Energy-efficient lighting, along with occupancy and daylight harvesting technologies that minimize consumption
- More than half the wood in the building was certified under the Forest Steward Council framework
- Approximately 75 percent of the construction waste was diverted from disposal
- Locally harvested materials
- An air-source heat pump that helps provide climate control for the building