Monday, January 11, 2010

How do you tackle climate change sceptics?

I'm looking forward to the upcoming "Sustainability – where Science and Society meet" workshop in Dublin City University later this month on Friday, 29th January 2010.

I'm especially looking forward to the session by John Sweeney on "Communicating the science of climate change: tackling scepticism after Copenhagen". John is a professor at NUI Maynooth and a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - it'll be really interesting to hear what he thinks about Climategate and to get an insight into the behind the scenes negotiations at Copenhagen / Hopenhagen last December.

There are lots of other interesting talks too in this workshop organised by the DCU Celsius research group as you'll see from the list below...

Sustainability and interdisciplinarity (John Barry, Institute for a
Sustainable World, Queens University Belfast)

Ethical dimensions of sustainability (Donal O Mathuna, School of Nursing,

Promoting sustainability research (Shane Colgan, Environmental Protection

Sustainability as a philosophical standpoint (Fiachra O Brolchain, DCU and
Queens University)

Food systems and sustainable development (Ciara Aucoin, VOICE of Irish
Concern for the Environment)

Social sustainability: the case of wind energy (Hilary Tovey, Dept of
Sociology, Trinity College Dublin)

Climate change and sustainability (Owen Lewis, Sustainable Energy Ireland)

Renewable energy research (Stephen Daniels, School of Electronic
Engineering, DCU)

Communicating the science of climate change: tackling scepticism after
Copenhagen (John Sweeney, NUI-Maynooth)

Sustainability-proofing in prospective technology assessment (Padraig
Murphy, School of Communications, DCU)

Technology assessment – is consensus possible in a pluralist society?
(Massimiano Bucchi, University of Trento, Italy)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Ireland's housing boom as seen from space

Ireland's housing boom can be seen clearly in this very impressive visualisation based on satellite images which I came across the other day:

This image shows the change in surface lights in Ireland between 1992 and 2008 - and the growth of towns dotted all over Ireland can be seen clearly in red, as well as the expanding motorway network (especially on the east coast between Dublin and Drogheda).

According to the image's creator Chris Elvidge at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who has kindly given me permission to show it here...
The red and orange areas had large growth in lighting from 1992 to 2008. The black areas saturated the sensor in both years - no change in lighting can be detected. Gray - blue/gray areas had dim lighting detected in both years.
He goes on to explain that...
I made the image here using data from the DMSP archive. DMSP is the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. These satellite carry an instrument called the Operational Linescan System (OLS), which collects low light imaging data at night for the detection of moonlit clouds.
I first saw this image in the January 2010 issue of the BBC Sky at Night magazine where they were talking about mapping "dark sky" areas which would make good spots for star gazing. As one of the many people who got a telescope for Christmas I've been reading the magazine for hints and tips - not a bad way to round off the International Year of Astronomy. But one mystery remains - I can't quite understand how Ireland has been historically strong in astronomy given the amount of cloudy nights we have here!