Earth & Science

Archive for the ‘Andy Revkin’ Category

How We (Really, Really) Know CO2 is Rising

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Ever wondered how scientists actually measure the amounts of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere? Or why they can guarantee that the increase in greenhouse gasses is caused by humans?

If the answer to that question is ‘yes,’ I suggest you read this fascinating post by Tom Yulsman on his blog, CE Journal. The story is a great chance to dive down under the surface of hard news headlines and get your hands dirty with the actual science. And, in my opinion, it’s a fine example of a “healthy” meeting between writings about science and the actual complicated and messy world of science that doesn’t really fit into any front page thoughts.

Yulsman is an associate professor at University of Colorado’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and he is co-director of the Center for Environmental Journalism.

The story was crafted for Climate Central and can also be read there.

Enjoy…

Written by Earth & Science

March 8, 2011 at 9:08 am

Mac Funds Snow Leopard from Bottom Up

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Two months ago, I wrote a post on Earth & Science about the peculiar and serendipitous nature of the web. In the post I argued that that the internet facilitates a kind of randomness that is not very random at all. And that this could prove to be a good thing for the snow leopard — an animal species of which only about 6000 exemplars remain, according to the WWF.

Here’s a brief recap of the blog post.

Until this Wednesday, New York Times-blogger, Andy Revkin, may not have known he was teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio to help conserve the threatened wild tiger. But then he noticed, as Revkin writes in a post on his blog, that he had received a burst of new followers on Twitter. Revkin discovered that DiCaprio had picked up on a suggestion he made that Apple — which has long named its Macintosh operating system software after the tiger, the snow leopard and other wild felines — could use some of its (heaps of) money to help preserve the wild cat. DiCaprio had re-tweeted Revkin’s suggestion giving it an extra boost of attention.

In the time after Revkin’s writing, nothing really happened. But then a few days ago I visited the Mac store in Copenhagen on Vesterbrogade. I needed a new mouse but much to my surprise, I also found a leopard. It was crouching on the sales desk.

Humac on Vesterbrogade, Photo: Google Maps

On the right side of the sales desk, a donation box was sitting with its interior stuffed with bills and coins of the Danish currency, Kroner. The money was dedicated to preserving the threatened snow leopard.

Why was it there? Coincidence? Or were the store’s employees reading the same tweets and blogs as I was?

Here’s how the Mac store’s marketing manager, Vibeke Bjerker, explains what had happened:

“It’s an idea we had together with the German retailer chain, Restore… You know, we have an operating system for Mac called System OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and because of that we thought it would be funny to link it up with the good cause. We thought that made a lot of sense.”

I was thrilled to see that the (relatively) small store on Vesterbrogade had gone with its own initiative and acted on a great idea. The Macintosh Corporation doesn’t officially sponsor the snow leopard. But it seems it doesn’t stop individual retailers from making their own choices either.

Humac on Vesterbrogade, Photo: Google Maps

The box on the desk is not really an example of “serendipity at the world’s largest cocktail party” (a horrible expression, I know.) But it is at least a reminder that sometimes the exact same ideas can form independently from each other.

And now those two ideas are connected via this blog.

Whether the symbolic link between a threatened animal and a corporate computer behemoth will grow on from initiatives such as this to also become a symbiotic one, time will tell. Maybe it needs to grow from bottom-up before it will be implemented as a marketing strategy Jobs-down.

I hope other stores around the world will show the same willingness to act on their own great ideas, whatever they may be, in the same way as the store on Vesterbrogade have done.

It’s ironic that the Macintosh Corporation still doesn’t pay back just a little to the threatened animal whose image it uses. But maybe this is how preconditions for that kind of voluntary and original CSR can build.

Let me know if you see any new donation boxes sprouting up in Mac stores out there, folks.

Written by Earth & Science

January 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

Serendipity at World’s Greatest Coctail Party May Help Conserve Wild Tigers

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Until this Wednesday, New York Times-blogger Andy Revkin may not have known he was teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio to help conserve the threatened wild tiger. But then he noticed, as Revkin writes in a post on his blog, that he had received a burst of new followers on Twitter. Revkin discovered that DiCaprio had picked up on a suggestion he made that Apple — which has long named its Macintosh operating system software after the tiger, the snow leopard and other wild felines — could use some of its (heaps of) money to help preserve the wild cat. DiCaprio had re-tweeted Revkin’s suggestion giving it an extra boost of attention.

The Snow Leopard -- Endangered Species and Namesake to Mac's Famous Operating System. Foto: Macopedia, Flickr.

What is at stake here? To me, the example is a case of self-induced serendipity facilitated by the web — by social media. It shows the capability of the internet to bring together the like minds of the world who may not have known they were alike in the first place — or rather, who may not have known in what ways exactly they were alike.

DiCaprio is obviously following Revkin on Twitter for a reason. But the question here is whether that reason has now shown to hold new potentials?

The internet, I think, is like the better version of a gigantic cocktail party. On the web we are relieved of sifting through all those boring people we don’t really want to talk to. We can go straight to our peers. Cass Sunstein, the law man currently administrating President Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has argued that this is a bad thing because it prevents us from meeting with people we don’t already agree with — it creates echo chambers. But sometimes, though, and hopefully for the wild tigers in this case,  it can also produce some interesting encounters that spur new and constructive thoughts.

In this case, all of that depend on Steve Jobs and whether he sees this as a branding opportunity for Apple. As Revkin says, Apple is free to choose the parsimonious path if the company wishes to do so. But now, if they do choose that path, it will be known as a conscious choice. There is no chance Steve Jobs hasn’t seen the suggestion laid forth by Revkin and DiCaprio.

The wonders of the self-induced serendipity at the world’s greatest cocktail party are at play. I wonder what they’ll do.

This post is written on a Mac.

Written by Earth & Science

November 22, 2010 at 6:30 am