All companies die. All cities are nearly immortal.
Both are type of networks, with different destinies. There are two basic network forms: organisms or ecosystems. Companies are like organisms, while cities are like ecosystems.
Geoff West from the Santa Fe Institute has piles of data to prove these universal and predictive laws of life. For instance, organisms scale in a 3/4 law. For every doubling in size, they increase in other factors by less than one, or .75. The bigger the organism, the slower it goes. Both elephants and mice have the same number of heartbeats per lifespan, but he elephant beats slower.
Ecosystems and cities, on the other hand, scale by greater than one, or 1.15. Every year cities increase in wealth, crime, traffic, patents, pollution, disease, infrastructure, and per capita by 15%. The bigger the city, the faster it goes.
A less than one rate of exponential growth inevitably leads to an s-curve of stagnation. All organisms and companies eventually stagnate and die. A greater than one rate of exponential leads to a hockey stick upshot of seemingly unlimited growth. All cities keep growing. As West remarked: We can drop an atom bomb on a city and 30 years later it will be thriving.
The question Geoff West could not answer at tonight’s Long Now talk was:
Is the internet more like a company or more like a city?
I’d bet it is more like a city.
I think the difference between the development of an organism and a ecosystem, or a company and a city, is that the later in each case evolves rather than grows. Growth is always self-limiting, while evolution is unlimited. Evolution is the infinite game; it remakes itself again and again from within so that its growth cannot catch up or stagnate…
What is Citizen Science? Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We’ll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.
David McCandless, Information is Beautiful: Plenty More Fish In The Sea?
Pita, Pablo and Freire, Juan. Calming down the seas: the near collapse of an Atlantic coastal fishery. Available from Nature Precedings <http://hdl.handle.net/10101/npre.2010.4529.1> (2010)
For years now the estimates of the consequences of overfishing for marine ecosystems have differed greatly within the scientific community. The use of commercial catch statistics to estimate tendencies has been much criticised, but alternative information sources with long time series are rare. Here we employ the historic archive (1953-2007) of the recreational spearfishery in Galicia (NW Spain), which does not have the problems common to other fishery registers, to estimate long-term changes in coastal ecosystems. Using generalized additive regression models (GAM) we estimated decreases of around 83% in the abundances of coastal fish over the last 50 years. In the same period the average body size decreased by 36%. In addition, the relative catch frequency has decreased for the most valuable commercial species. Commercial overfishing has brought these ecosystems so close to the brink of collapse that it is necessary to implement measures that ensure their recovery.
Proyecto Cecebre (del Taller de Sostenibilidad, alumnos de 5º curso de Biología)
… [Eric] Paulos, director of Carnegie Mellon’s new Living Environments Lab, is working to equip everyday cell phones with sensors capable of detecting a variety of environmental measurements, like carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter, or pollen counts. The data would then be uploaded and aggregated for sharing. Paulos envisions a new generation of ‘citizen scientists,’ connected both to the environment and each other.
"You have mobile technology with you all the time," Paulos explained. "What happens if that device is not just a communication tool but a measurement instrument? We’re looking at things that touch on connecting people with the environment, with human health, and with issues of community."
The benefits of ‘citizen science’ technology can be as simple as acquainting average folks with the science of the world around us, or as practical as gathering richer data sets for use by professional scientists.
They can be personal, allowing parents to analyze a local industrial plant’s effect on the neighborhood school’s air quality, or world-changing, increasing concern for our environment and encouraging societal level calls to action.
"Everyone has a personal environmental question they’d like to learn more about and we’d like to empower people to feel independent and proactive about employing mobile technologies to understand them," Paulos said. "The bigger issue is how do you facilitate the kinds of grassroots campaigns that hopefully give rise to real campaigns for change?" …
A central task for reimagining society today is to develop an alternative management of the common wealth we share. In this essay I want to explore two distinct but related domains of the common. On the one hand, the common refers to the earth and all of its ecosystems, including the atmosphere, the oceans and rivers, and the forests, as well as all the forms of life that interact with them. The common, on the other hand, also refers to the products of human labor and creativity that we share, such as ideas, knowledges, images, codes, affects, social relationships, and the like. These common goods, I will argue, are becoming increasingly central in capitalist production — a fact that has a series of important consequences for efforts to maintain or reform the capitalist system as well as projects to resist or overthrow it. As first approximations you could call these two realms the ecological common and the social and economic common or the natural and the artificial common, although these categories quickly prove insufficient
… This is where Ayala Water and Ecology comes in.
The Israel-based company specializes in designing artificial wetlands to treat contaminated water from agriculture, industries and urban areas so that it could be reused again. The recycled water may not be potable but at least the effluent doesn’t immediately get dumped and then pollute already dwindling supplies to the extent that untreated runoff would degrade them.
We have described the principle of these eco-machines in numerous posts, but to repeat, they take advantage of the ability of certain water plants not only to extract pollutants from the soil and water but also to render them inert. With the help of microorganisms, such as microbes, bacteria and fungi, they can take in toxins, heavy metals, greasy substances and pathogen agents. They can even phytoaccumulate and phytoremediate, to use the technical terms, substances that more technologically advanced systems cannot.
Of course, no single species can neutralize all contaminants. There isn’t even a master matrix of plants and microorganism that works in every scenario. The trick is in finding the right combination of biology, hydrology and chemistry that, in a sustainable manner, most efficiently removes the target pollutant and yields the purity level of the greywater one is aiming for.
Nuevas evidencias muestran que la relación entre crisis ambiental y conflicto humano puede operar en ambas direcciones. Jared Diamond explicaba como la crisis ambiental provocó históricamente la destrucción de civilizaciones. Ahora, estudios paleoclimáticos muestran, con datos de la zona de Vietnam, que la guerra (el mayor de los conflictos) ha sido la principal causa de los incendios (un agente clave en las crisis ambientales), más importante que la agricultura.