by Tom Bosschaert

Oct. 31, 2014

Tom Bosschaert

Beautiful photos of landscapes scarred by industry and climate change, a Dutch farmer is growing salt-tolerant potatoes, and the role water played during the start of the Syrian war. Read all about it in this Wormfood.

Global News: The strange beauty of destruction

  • These beautiful aerial photos show environments scarred by industry and climate change.

  • The Earth has been left with a huge blind spot for potentially devastating comet strikes after the only dedicated comet-spotting program in the southern hemisphere lost its funding, leading astronomers have warned.

  • The world is on course for this to be the hottest year ever, with global land and sea temperatures for September the highest ever recorded for the month, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Energy & Environment: Crowdfunded marine protected area

  • The Pacific island nation of Palau sets up the World’s first crowdfunded marine protected area. They raised over $50,000 to support the creation and enforcement of a Pacific Ocean no-fishing zone the size of France.

  • Emerging markets are installing renewable energy projects at almost twice the rate of developed nations, a report by Climatescope concluded. A study of 55 nations -- including China, Brazil, South Africa, Uruguay and Kenya -- found that they’ve installed a combined 142 gigawatts from 2008 to 2013. The 143 percent growth in renewables in those markets compares with an 84 percent rate in wealthier nations, which installed 213 megawatts.

  • Energy efficient and renewable energy technologies don´t necessarily lead to sustainable lives. “It’s increasingly being recognised that people aren’t pushed and pulled at the whim of technologies, nor does what people think always direct how people actually act.” according to Dr Chris Foulds, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University.

Business & Economy: Questioning economic growth

  • We’ve all been so effectively sold the line that endless growth is essential to maintain and improve our quality of life. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • It´s how you think, not what you know; on this premise a new University has started. “We didn’t want them to be trained just for some profession or particular kind of academic niche,” says Dr. Stephen Kosslyn, Minerva’s founding dean and a former Harvard and Stanford professor. “We wanted them to have the intellectual tools to succeed at jobs that don’t even exist yet.”

  • A majority of Canadians view environmental protection as being more important than energy prices and expect businesses to carry the burden of a carbon tax, according to a recent poll.

Science, Technology & Design: Salt-tolerant potatoes

  • Dutch farmer Marc van Rijsselberghe is growing salt-tolerant potatoes. “The world’s water is 89% salinated, 50% of agricultural land is threatened by salt water, and there are millions of people living in salt-contaminated areas. So it’s not hard to see we have a slight problem,” said van Rijsselberghe. “Up until now everyone has been concentrating on how to turn the salt water into fresh water; we are looking at what nature has already provided us with.”

  • In Japan, a man is sentenced to two years in prison for producing guns with a three-dimensional printer. He also released the design data for his guns on the Internet.

  • The Air Umbrella uses forced air, not fabric, to make a canopy that keeps the raindrops from falling on your head.

  • The company Planet Labs aims to photograph the entire Earth every day. To do this they are releasing dozens—71 so far—minisatellites, a veritable swarm of nimble imagers.

Urban Environment: The power of water

  • The war in Syria started in a time in which a horrible drought forced over 1 million farmers into the cities. Drought was probably a key tipping point for a bad situation to turn into a full scale war.

  • The city of Detroit must restore access to water for its citizens who remain unable to pay their bills, two United Nations experts urged today, adding that a failure to do so would be a violation of the most basic human rights of those residents.

  • Britain is on the brink of becoming a nation permanently divided between rich and poor, according to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. It suggests that the link between effort and reward, on which social mobility relies, has been broken.

  • These visualizations of city grids tell stories of politics, war and power struggles.

Unexpected and Intriguing: Cloud watching

  • Asperatus clouds are beautiful.

  • Hong Kong has too many poor people to allow direct elections, leader says. “If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”

  • Apple unable to use 'iWatch' name due to Irish trademark.

  • Twitter is the ‘source of all evil,’ according to Saudi Grand Mufti. “People are rushing to it thinking it’s a source of credible information but it’s a source of lies and falsehood.”

If you come across news items suited for the Wormfood, or a theme you would like to see a newsletter being dedicated to, please let me know and we'll do our best to make some magic happen.

Oct. 31, 2014