Precarious Environment

  • Biomes in Buildings

    We know too little about quality of life in an indoor environment to be confident that we can make it truly better. Nonetheless, imaginative ideas for buildings that inhale pollution and exhale clean air are being proposed. A coalition by the name of The Healthy Building Network is dubious of such claims. Many people and […]

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  • Soil Biodiversity and Glyphosate

    Of all the Jeremiads that environmentalists invoke, declining biodiversity is probably the easiest to see, because it is all around us, but hardest to fully comprehend. The notion that biodiversity is essential to ecosystem survival is hard to technically grasp, so environmental arguments too often degenerate into campaigns to save a cute critter threatened with […]

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  • Honeybee Crisis

    Last winter, between 40 and 50% of U.S. honeybees disappeared in the worst season of colony collapse disorder (CCD) since it was first reported in 2006. For a day or so, this penetrated national news. Both beekeepers and growers of crops dependent on pollination (about 25% of items in an American diet) are deeply concerned. […]

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  • Food Risk

    Formal risk management has become common in large organizations. Risk management has become complex, standardized in ISO 31000, and meriting university degrees. Most risk assessment multiplies the consequences of an event times its probability to create a risk index. Managements can then choose to eliminate, mitigate, or accept each risk. This simplifies complex issues for […]

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  • Resolving Hydraulic Fracturing Uncertainties

    American prospects to displace coal and petroleum fuels have been boosted by natural gas from hydraulic fracturing. This “fracking boom” began when “slickwater “ fracturing made extracting gas from shale feasible in 1999. By 2005 thousands of fracking operations provoked vehement protests. Wikipedia’s page on hydraulic fracturing plus its talk page evidence fragmented and contentious […]

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  • Compression Thinking About Water Systems

    Water affects more people in the world than any other environmental problem today, even when they don’t realize it. Water and sewage are hidden beneath the surface of many political issues. Agricultural irrigation being a major use of water, food supply is affected, depending on where you are. Contamination of water riles people very quickly. […]

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  • Black Swan Swarms

    A major theme of Compression Thinking is learning how to live as well or better using much less. That simple objective is possible for a working organization to fix in mind, but complexity implementing it challenges old business thinking. From a business view, shortages, environmental constraints, and protests are just more poisonous jellyfish in an […]

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  • “Hype Becomes Reality”

    Shelly Palmer used this phrase to describe the May 18 Initial Public Offering of Facebook, described as a Grand Casino Game – a monetization of Facebook hype, positive for the winners; negative for the losers. Of course, this assumes that money defines reality. Before opening, FB asked $38 a share. In trading, FB hit $42.99; […]

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  • Are Fire Retardants Endocrine Disruptors?

    Over the weekend Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times opened a new front investigating endocrine disruptors. He referred to an investigative series on fire retardants by the Chicago Tribune. Plowing through this takes time, but the gist is that the pseudo-scientific machinations of the fire retardant industry are the equal of decades of […]

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  • Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes

    This political as well as scientific issue has hung around for more than 50 years. About 80% of all antibiotics in the United States are fed to animals as disease prophylactics and as a growth stimulant. Recent developments promise to revive this dispute. Antibiotics have been used in animals as long as in humans. Antibiotics […]

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