Blog Archive for the ‘Long News’ Category

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Water Becomes a Global Commodity

Posted on Friday, January 14th, 02011 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska

Newsweek reports that Sitka, Alaska is looking at selling 3 billion of gallons of water for bottling in Mumbai India shipped via tanker.  This will mark one of the first major water transfers of this sort, making water a globally traded commodity.  It also brings up some interesting questions around climate change and how it will affect population centers.  It is said that water always travels uphill towards money, if this deal goes through we will determine if it will also cross oceans.

Mumbai, India

Woman power

Posted on Monday, September 13th, 02010 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

Burr Heneman suggests that the increasing empowerment of women around the world will have impact for generations to come.

Just a few weeks ago the U.S. marked the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote; yet few would argue that the genders have achieved equality. Still, there are signs of economic and political progress.

From The Atlantic Monthly: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1 percent in 1980… Earlier this year, for the first time in American history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women, who now hold a majority of the nation’s jobs.” Forty years ago, just 4% of the nation’s lawyers were women; now the figure is 32%. (They also note that among Americans who choose the sex of their children, most now choose girls.)

There’s more. According to the Small Business Administration, more than 40% of all U.S. businesses are women-owned, and in the past decade, nearly two out of every three businesses were started by women. Women also own more than 40% of private businesses in China. And in Europe, women already make up the majority of university graduates.

On the other hand, the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Dept of Labor reports that pay for men and women is still unequal, and many women still remain concentrated in traditionally lower-paying jobs despite the fact that women hold the majority of post-secondary degrees in this country.

And social progress seems to be coming more slowly. Poverty is becoming feminized (around the world, two out of three poor adults are women). Finally: although statistics are hard to come by, sexual assault and sexual slavery may actually be on the rise — and there are 20,000 “honor killings” of women each year.

Some recent news stories about the role of women in the world:

1. In the U.S., the salary gap may be shrinking: Workplace salaries: at last, women on top and also Young U.S. women learn, earn more than men

2. And yet: 90 years after the 19th Amendment, equality remains elusive

3. Mobile phones and micro-credit are leveling the playing field in Africa: Africa: women’s rights

4. 100 million girls have gone missing in Asia: Gendercide: The war on baby girls

5. About those “honor killings”: The crimewave that shames the world

6. Stafford Matthews sends news of another disturbing and unexplained development: More and more girls hitting puberty by age 7

7. Finally: women are better drivers than men, but do they get credit for it? For women who drive, the stereotypes die hard

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

(Thanks to Heather Kinlaw for background research.)

The future of war

Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 02010 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

At a recent Long Now seminar, Ed Moses mentioned in passing that we now produce enough bullets each year to kill every person on the planet — twice. We are a violent species; we hunt, we organize in gangs, we go to war. Today the U.S. is prosecuting two wars, and there are hotspots around the world from Darfur to Mexico.

At the same time, global defense spending is rising by 8% a year. We face unquantifiable threats from nuclear, biological, and robot weapons. And, of course, there will almost certainly be new conflicts over food, water, and other resources.

And yet —

Over the long term, it’s possible that war may actually be on the decline. The UN defines a “major war” as an armed conflict which causes more than 1,000 violent deaths a year. Just ten years ago, the world had fifteen major ongoing wars. Today there are seven.

In fact, Steven Pinker has argued that if you’re a young man (the group most likely to bear the burden of soldiering), your chances of dying in an armed conflict are lower than at any time in history: “If the wars of the twentieth century had killed the same proportion of the population that die in the wars of a typical tribal society, there would have been two billion deaths, not 100 million.” His essay is a few years old, but it’s worth reading if you haven’t seen it before: A history of violence.

Here are some other recent news stories and opinion pieces about the future of war (somewhat U.S.-centric, as the U.S. accounts for nearly half of global military spending, and most “advances” are taking place here):

1. Money and the military:

2. Ironically, even as we eliminate nuclear warheads:

3. High-tech combat:

4. War, what is it good for:

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

Good news about energy

Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 02010 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

It’s obvious energy will be one of the great challenges of this century. But it’s possible to hope that the current BP oil spill might help prompt a broader conversation about possible alternatives.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking for stories about the future of energy, running a News Hunt with the help of social news site NewsTrust.

There was good news on many fronts – we found a lot of high quality journalism; we had great participation from a large number of NewsTrust and Long Now Foundation members, bringing in news sources from around the world; and finally, there was a surprising amount of good news in the news stories themselves, as you’ll read below.

To quote Alexander Rose: “Looking back over what came out of the Energy News Hunt I found that I learned not only more about energy, but a lot more about the way it is covered by the press. I am reminded how rare it is to see a story that contextualizes new energy technology in the overall picture. Crowd-sourcing is a tricky and nuanced business. NewsTrust did a great job framing and directing the efforts of its contributors to yield high quality stories.”

For an excellent summary of everything we learned, visit the NewsTrust blog here.

For a quick overview, here are some of the best recent news stories we found about the future of energy:

1. Solar: Here comes the sun

European dream of desert energy takes shape

The rise of big solar: growing pains

2. Wind: The answer, my friend

How Texas lassoed the wind

Bottled wind could be as constant as coal

3. Nuclear: The news on nukes

The future of nuclear power

The nuclear option is back on the table

4. Geothermal: I feel the earth move

Joining the energy underground: residential geothermal power systems

Using carbon dioxide to extract geothermal energy

5. Biofuels: What’s it all about, algae?

Algae to solve the Pentagon’s jet fuel problem

Exxon bets $600 million on algae biofuel despite doubters

6. Fusion: You are my sunshine

Laser fusion test results raise energy hopes

This machine might* save the world

7. Oil: Not all the news is good

Lasting menace: gulf oil-spill disaster likely to exert environmental harm for decades

Think gas is too pricey? Think again.

Finally, we’d like to thank the folks at NewsTrust for helping pull this together, particularly their terrific team: Fabrice Florin, Kaizar Campwala, Jon Mitchell, Beth Wellington, and Mike La Bonte. We invite you to visit, where you can join NewsTrust to comment on stories yourself.

The Future of Energy: a news hunt

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 02010 by Kirk Citron
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Heliotron magnetic field fusion containment device

Heliotron magnetic field fusion containment device

Is There Good News About Energy?

In the face of the BP disaster, it would be all too easy to lose hope about our energy future. But it’s possible there might be a silver lining in that oily cloud: if we’re lucky, the spill may prompt a deeper conversation about the need to find new, global, scalable solutions to meet our energy needs.

As part of that conversation, we’d like to invite you to join our Energy News Hunt, with social news site

Energy News Hunt

From June 7 to 20, 02010, The Long Now Foundation and its Long News initiative are partnering with NewsTrust to find good journalism about the future of energy — with a particular focus on low carbon technologies and innovative solutions that can scale quickly into terawatts. For a sense of the scale required, see Saul Griffith’s talk on Climate Change, Recalculated.

We invite you to join forces with us and NewsTrust, so that together we can find some of the best (and worst) coverage of this important topic. NewsTrust is a community of citizens and journalists who rate the news based on quality, not just popularity — by reviewing articles for accuracy, fairness, context and other journalistic qualities.

Joining the Energy News Hunt is easy and informative — and you can contribute your expertise in just minutes. Simply review stories listed in our Energy topic page — or post other interesting articles you have come across on this topic. As you review these stories, you will learn more about important energy issues, and you will become more aware about the quality of the news you consume.

To get started, sign up on NewsTrust’s special welcome page for The Long Now Foundation. This will let you review stories on NewsTrust and get the full benefit of their free service.

On June 16th, 02010, The Long Now Foundation is hosting a talk about fusion energy by Ed Moses of the National Ignition Facility. If you live in the Bay Area, this is a great opportunity to learn about his groundbreaking work on laser fusion. This News Hunt is intended as a companion for this talk, to help share quality news and information about this complex topic.

Throughout the Energy News Hunt, News Trust will update its blog to feature some of each day’s best finds: featured stories recommended by our hosts and editors.

Join the Energy News Hunt – and get more informed!  You can see some of the most recently added articles below:

Man the toolmaker

Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 02010 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

It used to be thought that what defined us as human is the fact that we make tools. But in the past few decades, toolmaking has also been observed in chimpanzees, dolphins, elephants, otters, octopuses, and several kinds of birds. Still, no other species manipulates matter as relentlessly as humans do. And over the long term, our tools are getting smaller and more sophisticated as we learn more about how to fiddle with molecules, engineer new substances, and tinker with the stuff of… stuff.

Some recent news stories from the world of materials science:

1. Pushing the envelope with paper:

Scientists say paper battery could be in the works

‘Tissue paper’ could stop bullets, harness solar energy

2. Cracking the glass ceiling:

Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything

3. Water water everywhere:

MIT researchers harness viruses to split water

Device to convert seawater offers hope to parched lands

Water practically flies off new surface

4. Meanwhile, machines are getting smaller every day:

Scientists create world’s first molecular transistor

Scientists harness bacteria to turn microscopic gears

Molecules made into motors

Nanodevice powered by motion

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

How big is that “big story”?

Posted on Friday, April 9th, 02010 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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Stewart Brand sent in this fantastic graph that shows how “big” a given news story of the past decade was and then also notes how many lives were lost because of it.  To see the full size image click through to the wonderful Information is Beautiful Blog.  Of course the interesting bits are the real discrepancies such as the Y2k story (some might say non-story) which resulted in zero loss of life vs. killer wasps which I haven’t even heard of that have accounted for more deaths than SARS or Swine Flu.

Of course other major loss of life events like 40,000+ deaths in the US alone in car accidents dont even rate on the graph.

You should live so long

Posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 02010 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

The woman in this picture just celebrated her 100th birthday. But she’s far from the oldest living American: that’s Neva Morris, of Ames, Iowa, who’s 114. They’re just two of the 84,000 centenarians living in the United States.

It’s estimated that by 02050, the number of centenarians worldwide will reach nearly 6 million. And some say that half of the babies born in the U.S. today will live into the 22nd century. Obviously, this will pose new challenges for the workplace, social security, health care, and just about every other aspect of society.

Some recent news stories about aging:

1. Millions of hundred-year-olds:

Starting to get crowded in 100-year-olds’ club

Half of U.S. babies living today may reach 100

2. The science of life extension:

Genetic fountain of youth

Scientists spot genes tied to aging

One key found for living to 100

3. Is it genes? Diet? No, the most important ingredient might be hope:

Have a purpose in life? You might live longer

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

Long News at TED

Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 02010 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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Kirk Citron, the man behind Long News here on this blog, was invited to give a short talk on it at this years TED conference in Long Beach.  They just posted the video which you can see above.  Congratulations to Kirk, and big thanks for coming to us with the idea and doing such a great job curating!

Memory loss

Posted on Friday, March 12th, 02010 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

Today, humans speak to each other in nearly 7,000 languages; it’s estimated that 90% of those languages will be gone by 02050, displaced by English, Spanish, or Chinese. Meanwhile, there’s a broader question about how well we’re preserving  the rest of the world’s cultural heritage. But while we may be losing our collective memories, the thoughts of individuals are more and more likely to live on.

Some recent news stories about losing, or preserving, human culture:

1. What we have here is a failure to communicate:

65,000-year-old language goes extinct

Why half of the world’s languages are in serious danger of dying out

2. Goodbye to all that:

Machu Picchu, Barcelona church on threatened list

3. Culture goes back further than we imagined:

Oldest ‘writing’ found on 60,000-year-old eggshells

Modern behavior found half-million years earlier than previously thought

4. Speak, memory:

Device turns thoughts into speech

Researchers show brain waves can ‘write’ on a computer

Brain scanners can tell what you’re thinking about

New camera promises to capture your whole life

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.