I had the opportunity of sitting with Ismail Serageldin, the director of the Library of Alexandria at a session at the STS Forum. He told me a story about a fellow educator and librarian who was dismayed that students were only citing things that they could find on the Internet and were no longer using physical libraries. Ismail said that he disagreed. He told me that he felt that students using the Internet were correct and that it was the libraries that needed to make more material available online. I totally agree. (He also said he was a fan of Wikipedia.) So it's good news that:
Matt Haughey @ CC Blog30 Million newspapers to be put online
Great news for the public domain: The National Endowment for the Arts and the Library of Congress are putting 30 million newspaper pages online, dating from 1836 to 1922.
It'll take until 2006 to complete the project but the Library of Congress has put up a sample from The Stars and Stripes, an armed forces paper, posting every issue from 1918-1919.
Today I was on a panel at a JETRO conference with Hong Liang Lu. He has some amazing numbers about telephones China. Chinese are buying 90M new mobile phones a year. (Compared to 80M total mobile phones in Japan.) Japanese are about to make pre-paid mobile phone illegal because they are being used in crime. 80% of Chinese cell phones are pre-paid because of collection issues. PHS (Personal Handy Phone) which was developed in Japan (and I thought was a dead standard) is heavily deployed in China with 70M subscribers vs. only 5M subscribers in Japan. Minutes are as cheap as 1 cent per minute in China. China has 300M land-line phones and 300M mobile phones now.
I knew telecom was going crazy in China, and many of you may know these numbers, but they are stunning none the less.
Sorry about the light blogging. I was participating in an interesting conference in Kyoto called Science and Technology in Society with a very interesting international mix of scientists, politicians and business people. There were lots of really interesting presentations from some really smart people. I'll try to post more later, but here are some notes from a lunch speech by Sherwood F. Rowland, Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry and Earth Systems, University of California at Irvine and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1995).
The population of the world is about 6B now and it is expected that it will stabilize at around 9B in the middle of the century. We've grown from 3B to 6B in the last half century so we've done this before. We output about 6B tons of carbon dioxide. That's an average of 1 ton per person. In the US the average is about 5 tons per person and in India and Nigeria it's about 0.2 tons per person. If you added the US and population to India's population, it would be about 1.4 tons, or approximately the rate at which Albania creates carbon dioxide. 85% of our energy comes from fossil fuels, coal, gas and oil which create carbon dioxide. These are green house gasses. In 1800 there was about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide and 800 parts per billion of methane in the air. Today we are at about 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide and 1750 parts per billion of methane.I was scribbling notes during lunch and I may have mangled some of this. Please let me know if I've misquoted something and I'll fix it.
A calculation of the natural greenhouse effect of the earth is 32 degrees centigrade. The enhanced greenhouse effect puts us at more like 33 to 37 degrees centigrade. The average temperature of the earth has increased 6/10th of a degree in the last century. The warmest days since we have begun recording temperatures about 150 years ago have all been since 1990. In order to stabilize the increase in carbon dioxide (at a much higher level than it is now), we would need to cut back 60% of our output. Conservation can help, but it is unlikely that conservation itself can take us to a sustainable situation. Alternative carbon free energy sources like solar, nuclear, and wind must be explored, but we must understand that we are in a situation that requires immediate action.
One important "take-away" from this meeting was that global warming and the risk did not seem like some sort of disputed theory as some politicians seem to lead us to believe. All of the scientists involved in energy and ecology that I heard speaking seemed to believe that our earth was immediately at risk and that we had to act now. The combination of the increase in population and our addiction to energy would not allow us to stabilize at any sustainable equilibrium without drastic changes in the way we make and use energy.