Friday, February 29, 2008


memphis.jpg (15215 bytes)

Climograph for Memphis, TN

Source: M. Ritter

A climograph is a graphical depiction of the monthly precipitation and temperature conditions for a selected place. Precipitation is shown by the bar graph. A line graph depicts temperature.


In statistics, a histogram is a graphical display of tabulated frequencies. A histogram is the graphical version of a table that shows what proportion of cases fall into each of several or many specified categories. The histogram differs from a bar chart in that it is the area of the bar that denotes the value, not the height, a crucial distinction when the categories are not of uniform width (Lancaster, 1974). The categories are usually specified as non-overlapping intervals of some variable. The categories (bars) must be adjacent.

The word histogram is derived from Greek: histos 'anything set upright' (as the masts of a ship, the bar of a loom, or the vertical bars of a histogram); gramma 'drawing, record, writing'. The histogram is one of the seven basic tools of quality control, which also include the Pareto chart, check sheet, control chart, cause-and-effect diagram, flowchart, and scatter diagram. A generalization of the histogram is kernel smoothing techniques. This will construct a very smooth Probability density function from the supplied data.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Five Steps to Boost Indian Agriculture

The Confederation of Indian Industry is bullish on the Indian agriculture and feels the sector can lift its growth rate above the last ten years' average of 2 per cent.

The industry body has also scripted a five-point agri-reforms agenda to boost Indian agriculture and attract private investment in to the sector.

"Indian agriculture is bouncing back. It is scripting its own success story, thanks to rising private investment, which will lead to a faster growth. Faster growth in agriculture tomorrow will happen because of rising private investment in agriculture today," says Y C Deveshwar, Chairman, CII's Agriculture Council, and Chairman, ITC.

The CII, however, cautions that it is unrealistic to expect a repeat of last year's double-digit growth in agriculture, despite the forecast of a normal monsoon. But CII is of the view that in the coming years, Indian agriculture will grow faster than before.

CII's optimism stems from the fact that across India, agribusiness companies are developing new models to reach out to farmers and consumers, providing new technologies, investing more in modern supply chains and in organized food retailing that sells more and more processed food.

According to CII, the surge in private investment is due to increased demand for food and other agricultural commodities. With the income level rising, demand for milk, meat or fish, fruits and vegetables is also increasing. With more urbanisation, Indian families also consume more processed foods, more ready-to-eat foods, etc, says CII. India is becoming a medium-sized agricultural exporter, selling tea, fish, spices and now rice and wheat to foreign countries.

According to CII, smart businesses have realized that it is a growing opportunity to be present in any part of the agricultural value chain, which has led to more investment not only by big companies but even by first-generation entrepreneurs.

Improved rural infrastructure is also playing a key role behind the agri sector's comeback trail. With better rural infrastructure, is comparatively easier and cost-effective to bring farm produce to the market. Better rural roads, more godowns and cold storages, improving rural electricity supply, will all result in faster growth in agriculture, says CII.

According to CII, Indian farmers are learning to take on the challenge of producing better quality produce at internationally competitive prices. They are willing to use new technologies, and become organized.

CII's confidence in India's agriculture stems from the fact that specific commitments are made in the manifestos of the main parties. Significant importance has been given to reforms in agriculture.

CII, however, points out that Indian agriculture still suffers from:

  • Poor productivity.
  • Falling water levels.
  • Expensive credit.
  • A distorted market.
  • Many intermediaries who increase cost but do not add much value.
  • Laws that stifle private investment.
  • Controlled prices.
  • Poor infrastructure.
  • Produce that does not meet international standards.
  • Inappropriate research.
  • Tax evasion by unorganised sector leading to the lack of a level playing field.

All these hamper the farmers and the Industry. In addition, agriculture is a state subject, and most states have little funds to invest in agriculture development. According to CII, if these problems are removed, India can become the 'food factory of the world.'

CII believes that agricultural reforms and increased private investment must, benefit farmers, especially small farmers. CII is of the opinion that farmers would benefit by greater corporate investment in agriculture, especially in three areas: getting competitive sources of finance; getting competitive markets to sell to; and getting competitive suppliers of knowledge.

'The Indian Farmers and Industry Alliance' that the CII has set up to bring companies and farm leaders together is only the first step to greater cooperation between these two natural allies. This development was a significant step towards bringing the farmers and corporate sector together, says CII.

According to CII, agriculture in 2004 is like industry was in 1991. The private sector was awaiting policy reforms that would allow it to make much larger investments in this sector.

CII's five main agri-reform agenda includes:

  • Give States an incentive to amend the APMC act and abolish mandi taxes. This would allow competitive markets to develop; farmers and processors will both gain.
  • Support the organised private sector in increasing its spending on extension and technology transfer. This would give farmers the knowledge of what to grow, and how to grow so that stringent quality norms are met.
  • Implement the Unified Food Law, and back it up with lowering the total tax burden on processed foods so that the sector picks up, and consequently demand for farm produce rises.
  • Target foreign buyers of high-value ethnic Indian foods, as opposed to commodity exports-starting with the large NRI population of 20 million, which can be a huge market.
  • Create a viable model of public-private partnership that allows private investors to invest in agriculture infrastructure in partnership with banks and financial institutions.

According to CII, the problems in Indian agriculture are well known; the many successes that have been achieved across different sectors were not so well known.

Deveshwar says CII will hold 'The Agriculture Summit 2004' at Jaipur on May 11 and 12. This CII flagship conference would showcase these success stories with the idea of 'learning from what works'.

The summit will see the industry, the farmers, the policy makers, financial institutions and commodity exchanges come together and brainstorm with the policy makers, to push reforms in the agri sector.

The CII Agri Summit would be inaugurated by Vasundhara Raje, Chief Minister, Rajasthan, and would also be addressed by K C Pant, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.

The summit will highlight and discuss several policy issues and other issues, including:

  • Agricultural marketing.
  • Retailing.
  • Wasteland development.
  • Risk management.
  • Farm extension.
  • Farm mechanisation.
  • Contract farming.
  • Finance.


Agrobiodiversity is a sub-set of general biodiversity including all cultivated varieties. Cultivated varieties can be broadly classified into “modern varieties” and “farmer’s or traditional varieties”. Modern varieties are the outcome of scientific breeding and are characterised by a high yield and a high degree of genetic uniformity. In contrast, farmer’s varieties (also known as landraces) are the product of breeding or selection carried out by farmers. They represent higher levels of genetic diversity and are therefore the focus of most conservation efforts. Agricultural biodiversity contributes to food security and livelihood security and underpins the development of all food production. It is the first link in the food chain, developed and safeguarded by farmers, livestock breeders, forest workers, fishermen and indigenous peoples throughout the world.

According to FAO Agrobiodiversity, "encompasses the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms which are necessary to sustain key functions of the agroecosystem, its structure and processes for, and in support of, food production and food security". It is the product of sustainable agro ecological production systems and these systems simultaneously depend on a wide range of agricultural biodiversity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Indian Agriculture

Agriculture in India is one of the most prominent sectors in its economy. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, logging and fishing accounted for 18.6% of the GDP in 2005 and employed 60% of the country's population. It accounts for 8.56% of India’s exports. About 43% of India's geographical area is used for agricultural activity. Despite a steady decline of its share in the GDP, agriculture is still the largest economic sector and plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic development of India. The monsoons play a critical role in the Indian sub-continent's agriculture in determining whether the harvest will be bountiful, average, or poor in any given year. The entire rainfall in the sub-continent is concentrated in the few monsoon months. Agriculture in India is constitutionally the responsibility of the states rather than the central government. The central government's role is in formulating policy and providing financial resources for agriculture. The government administers prices of essential commodities to protect farmer's interests. It also administers other commodities which are produced by government-controlled companies, like petroleum, coal, nitrogenous fertilizers, etc. Other than these, most agricultural commodity markets operate under the normal forces of demand and supply.

History of Indian agriculture

Evidence of the presence of wheat and some legumes in the 6th millennium BC have been found in the Indus Valley. Oranges were cultivated in the same millennium. The crops grown in the valley around 4000 BC were typically wheat, peas, sesame seed, barley, dates and mangoes. By 3500 BC cotton growing and cotton textiles were quite advanced in the valley. By 3000 BC farming of rice had started. Other monsoon crops of importance of the time was cane sugar. By 2500 BC, rice was an important component of the staple diet in Mohenjodaro near the Arabian Sea. The Indus Plain had rich alluvial deposits which came down the Indus River in annual floods. This helped sustain farming that formed basis of the Indus Valley Civilization at Harappa. The people built dams and drainage systems for the crops. By 2000 BC tea, bananas and apples were being cultivated in India. There was coconut trade with East Africa in 200 AD. By 500 AD, egg plants were being cultivated.

Green Revolution

After independence, considering India's growing population, the government took steps to increase the food production. Yields per unit area of all crops have grown since 1950. The 1970s saw a huge increase in India's wheat production. This is known as the Indian Green Revolution. Reasons for the growth are the special emphasis placed on agriculture and steady improvements in irrigation, technology, application of modern agricultural practices and provision of agricultural credit and subsidies.

Operation Flood

Operation Flood was the name of a rural development programme started by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1970 with the objective of creating a nationwide milk grid. This movement followed the Indian green revolution and helped in alleviating poverty and famine levels from dangerous proportions in India during the era. It resulted in India becoming the largest producer of milk and milk products, so it is also called the White Revolution of India.


India is ranked second in the world in terms of agricultural output. India is the largest producer in the world of milk, cashew nuts, coconuts, tea, ginger, turmeric and black pepper. It also has the world's largest cattle population (193 million). India ranks second worldwide in farm output. It is the second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugar, groundnut and inland fish. It is the third largest producer of tobacco. India accounts for 10 per cent of the world fruit production with first rank in the production of banana and sapota. Given below is a chart of trend of output of cereals and major foodgrains as publishedby the Department of Food and Public Distribution with figures in tonnes.

Year Cereals Rice Wheat Coarsegrains Pulses
2001–02 199,480,000 93,340,000 72,770,000 33,370,000 13,370,000
2004–05 192,730,000 87,800,000 73,030,000 31,880,000 13,670,000

Despite high growth, international comparisons reveal that the average yield in India is generally 30% to 50% of the highest average yield in the world.

The low productivity in India is a result of the following factors:

  • Illiteracy, general socio-economic backwardness, reforms and inadequate or inefficient finance and marketing services for farm produce.
  • The average size of land holdings is very small (less than 20,000 m²) and are subject to fragmentation, due to land ceiling acts and in some cases, family disputes. Such small holdings are often over-manned, resulting in disguised unemployment and low productivity of labour.
  • Adoption of modern agricultural practices and use of technology is inadequate, hampered by ignorance of such practices, high costs and impracticality in the case of small land holdings.
  • Irrigation facilities are inadequate, as revealed by the fact that only 53.6% of the land was irrigated in 2000–01, which result in farmers still being dependent on rainfall, specifically the Monsoon season. A good monsoon results in a robust growth for the economy as a whole, while a poor monsoon leads to a sluggish growth. Farm credit is regulated by NABARD, which is the statutory apex agent for rural development in the subcontinent.
In the last few decades several farmers have committed suicide especially in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala. Combating this has become a major challenge for these governments. Some of the causes for the deaths include indebtedness of small and marginal farmers and repeated crop failure

Agriculture in the Indian states

About 70% population of the India is directly dependent on agriculture, also agriculture is the main component for most of the state economies in India. Historically, the Punjab region (the five rivers region) has been one of the most fertile regions on earth. The region is ideal for wheat-growing. Punjab is called the "Granary of India" or "India's bread-basket". It produces 60% of India's wheat, and 40% of India's rice. The south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are also major producers of rice, Andhra Pradesh being India's second biggest producer of rice. These states are mostly irrigated by the rivers Krishna, Godavari and Cauvery. Haryana is self-sufficient in food production and the second largest contributor to India's central pool of food grains. Haryana contributed significantly to the Green Revolution in India in the 1970s. The National Dairy Research Institute at Karnal, and the Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes at Hisar are instrumental in development of new breeds of cattle and propagation of these breeds through embryo transfer technology. The Murrah breed of water buffalo from Haryana is world-famous for its milk production. The high-altitude states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are ideal for production of apples. Arunachal Pradesh also has a large number of fruit orchards. Tea is the other produce of the high altitude regions of Assam, West Bengal (Darjeeling), Tripura, Tamil Nadu (Ooty), Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. Assam produces some of the finest and most expensive teas in the world (see Assam tea). However Assam tea is grown at elevations near sea level, giving it a malty sweetness and an earthy flavor, as opposed to the more floral aroma of highland (e.g., Darjeeling, Taiwanese) In the north-eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, shifting cultivation known locally as jhum, was practised by the tribal groups, but that has come to be less practised. In mountainous states like Sikkim, farming is done on terraced slopes. The state has the highest production and largest cultivated area of cardamom in India. Karnataka is the largest producer of coffee in India and accounts for 59% of the country’s coffee production. It is grown mostly in the lower slopes of the Western Ghats in Kodagu district. Karnataka is also the largest producer of sandalwood based products like perfumes. Sandalwood comes from the dense forested areas of southern Karnataka. The state is also the largest producer of raw silk and Mysore silk saris are famous. The other state manufacturing silk is Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. The state is also the biggest wool-producing state in India.

Cardamom plantation, India
Cardamom plantation, India

Kerala produces 96% of national output of pepper. It is also the largest producer of spices which include cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Kerala is also the largest producer of natural rubber in India (91%). The other state producing rubber is Tripura.' 30 percent of Mizoram is covered with wild bamboo forests, and accounts for 40 percent of India's 80-million-ton annual bamboo crop. There has been an economic shift towards agriculture for some states like Bihar after the mineral rich areas were carved out to form the new state of Jharkhand.


The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) established in 1905, was responsible for the research leading to the "Green revolution" of the 1970s. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is the apex body in agriculture and related allied fields, including research and education. The Union Minister of Agriculture is the President of the ICAR. The Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute develops new techniques for the design of agricultural experiments, analyses data in agriculture, and specializes in statistical techniques for animal and plant breeding. India is now trying to adopt organic farming, but as per the survey conducted in the year 2006-2007, the total production and the total requirement of organic manures and biofertilizers in India was estimated approximately to be 12.2 million tonnes and 15.7 million tonnes respectively. Hence, the research is now focussing towards minimizing the gap between the supply and the demand of organic manures and biofertilizers. Prof. M.S. Swaminathan is known as "Father of the Green Revolution" and heads the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. He is known for his advocacy of environmentally sustainable agriculture and sustainable food security.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Natural Resources

Natural resources are naturally occurring substances that are considered valuable in their relatively unmodified (natural) form. A natural resource's value rests in the amount of the material available and the demand for it. The latter is determined by its usefulness to production. A commodity is generally considered a natural resource when the primary activities associated with it are extraction and purification, as opposed to creation. Thus, mining, petroleum extraction, fishing, hunting, and forestry are generally considered natural-resource industries, while agriculture is not. The term was introduced to a broad audience by E.F. Schumacher in his 1970s book Small is Beautiful.

Classification of natural resources

Natural resources are mostly classified into renewable and non-renewable resources.

Renewable resources

Renewable resources are generally living resources (fish, reindeer, coffee, and forests, for example), which can restock (renew) themselves if they are not over-harvested but used sustainably. Once renewable resources are consumed at a rate that exceeds their natural rate of replacement, the standing stock (see renewable energy) will diminish and eventually run out. The rate of sustainable use of a renewable resource is determined by the replacement rate and amount of standing stock of that particular resource. Non-living renewable natural resources include soil and water.

Flow renewable resources are very much like renewable resources, only they do not need regeneration, unlike renewable resources. Flow renewable resources include renewable energy sources such as the following renewable power sources: solar, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, tides and wind.

Resources can also be classified on the basis of their origin as biotic and abiotic. Biotic resources are derived from living organisms. Abiotic resources are derived from the non-living world (e.g., land, water, and air). Mineral and power resources are also abiotic resources some of which are derived from nature.

Non-renewable resources

A non-renewable resource is a natural resource that exists in a fixed amount that cannot be re-made, re-grown or regenerated as fast as it is consumed and used up.

Some non-renewable resources can be renewable but take an extremely long time to renew. Fossil fuels, for example, take millions of years to form and so are not practically considered 'renewable'. Many environmentalists proposed to tax on consumption of non renewable resources.

Natural capital

Main article: Natural capital

Natural resources are natural capital converted to commodity inputs to infrastructural capital processes.[3][4] They include soil, timber, oil, minerals, and other goods taken more or less from the Earth. Both extraction of the basic resource and refining it into a purer, directly usable form, (e.g., metals, refined oils) are generally considered natural-resource activities, even though the latter may not necessarily occur near the former.

A nation's natural resources often determine its wealth and status in the world economic system, by determining its political influence in. Developed nations are those which are less dependent on natural resources for wealth, due to their greater reliance on infrastructural capital for production. However, some see a resource curse whereby easily obtainable natural resources could actually hurt the prospects of a national economy by fostering political corruption. Political corruption can negatively impact the national economy because time is spent giving bribes or other economically unproductive acts instead of the generation of generative economic activity. There also tends to be concentrations of ownership over specific plots of land that have proven to yield natural resources.

In recent years, the depletion of natural capital and attempts to move to sustainable development have been a major focus of development agencies. This is of particular concern in rainforest regions, which hold most of the Earth's natural biodiversity - irreplaceable genetic natural capital. Conservation of natural resources is the major focus of natural capitalism, environmentalism, the ecology movement, and Green Parties. Some view this depletion as a major source of social unrest and conflicts in developing nations.

Other information sources

Monday, February 25, 2008

India on World Oil Map

India is well-known for its historical civilization, diverse religions, enormous population, spicy food and tasty tea. But discoveries of significant oil and gas resources in recent years have placed the country in the spotlight of the petroleum industry — music to the ears of a nation with a rapidly growing economy.

India’s tea plantations and the discovery of its earliest oilfield are connected. When British explorers began to map the dense jungles of India’s northeastern Assam region in the 19th century, old reports from farmers of oil seepages in the area drew their attention. In 1865, the Geological Survey of India recommended drilling near some of these seepages. Only two years later, oil was struck in Assam. This was the first mechanically drilled and successful oil well in India, but it did not produce much. The commercial oil industry in India truly began in 1889, when, legend has it, an elephant working for the Assam Railways & Trading Company accidentally stepped into an oil seepage. “Dig! Boy!” cried the excited Englishman. The workers thus drilled the discovery, which is now the well-known Digboi oilfield.

Until the 1960s, India’s oil production was confined to Assam with a daily output of about 5,000 barrels. Then oil was discovered in western India, first in the onshore Cambay Basin in 1958 and later in the offshore Bombay Basin in 1974. These fields increased India’s daily production to 700,000 barrels.

For decades after India got its independence from Britain in 1947, the country maintained semi-socialist protectionist policies. The economy changed drastically, however, after economist Manmohan Singh (India’s current prime minister) became the country’s finance minister in 1991 and the country entered the open international market, facilitating India’s rapid economic growth. The petroleum industry illustrates this economic evolution. For decades, the Indian government largely controlled the petroleum industry. Petroleum exploration and production (upstream activities) were left to the two nationalized companies Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd., while refining, distribution and marketing (downstream activities) were conducted by the Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum companies.

More recently, private and foreign oil companies have become active in India, most notably Reliance Industries (a private Indian company), Cairn Energy (Scottish), Nikko Resources (Canadian) and British Gas. In 1999, the Indian government introduced the New Exploration Licensing Policy under the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, which allows all companies to bid for exploration blocks both on- and offshore India. So far, seven rounds of blocks have been awarded and an eighth is set to go on the market this spring.

Over the last decade, India’s economic liberalization coupled with the increased domestic and global demand for oil and advances in drilling technology in deepwater basins have changed the face of the petroleum industry in the country. This, in turn, has motivated new geologic appraisal of sedimentary basins in India.

More than 300 million years ago, India was part of the Gondwana supercontinent. India’s eastern margin was connected to East Antarctica and its western margin to Africa. The Tethys Ocean washed the northern shores of Gondwana. As the supercontinent began to break up, rift basins formed on India’s western and eastern margins. Some of these rift basins (called the Gondwana basins in India) contain abundant coal resources. About 130 million years ago, as India began to separate from Gondwana, the eastern and western margins of India became shallow sea and finally deepwater basins of the Indian Ocean. Around 50 million years ago, India began colliding with Asia, a tectonic event that sculpted the Himalayas. The Indus, Ganges and other rivers flowing out of the rising Himalayas filled the plains and basins in front of the rising mountains, and also transported considerable amounts of sediments to the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Current understanding of this geologic history has provided a new perspective for petroleum exploration in the country.

The recent discoveries in Assam demonstrate excellent potential for new oil reserves even in such a classic and mature petroleum province. Furthermore, petroleum discoveries offshore east India, which are very expensive ventures, were not made (as one may assume) by major international oil companies after extensive drilling, but by relatively small companies (notably Cairn Energy and Reliance Industries) that drilled a relatively small number of wells. The success rate of petroleum discoveries by Reliance Industries in deepwater basins offshore east India has been an impressive 80 percent. These discoveries include a series of gas fields named Dhirubhai, first made in the deepwater Krishna-Godavari Basin in 2002 through 2004 and extended to the deepwater Cauvery Basin in 2007. Last year, new oil and gas fields were found in the deepwater Krishna-Godavari Basin and ONGC announced the first discovery of gas fields offshore of the Mahanadi Basin. There is thus huge potential for future discoveries in these deepwater basins.

Additionally, the oil and gas discoveries in the onshore Rajasthan and Cambay basins indicate the extent to which many of India’s sedimentary basins have remained underexplored. Recent oil and gas discoveries in India are attracting major international companies to enter India's petroleum ventures.

India’s petroleum basins are showing great promise for new discoveries. At the same time, the country’s thirst for energy and fuel is rapidly increasing. India is the world’s fifth-largest energy consumer. Coal still dominates (57 percent), while oil accounts for 28 percent and natural gas supplies 8 percent of India’s energy consumption. India is the world’s sixth-largest oil consumer and imports three-quarters of its oil from overseas (mostly from the Middle East). Therefore, India itself will probably remain the sole buyer of the country’s oil and gas. Still, every step the country can take toward greater energy independence can add to its growing economy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Squabbles Over South China Sea

The South China Sea, stretching from Singapore to the Strait of Taiwan, includes hundreds of small islands and reefs. Although the islands are largely uninhabited, multiple nations have claimed them — historically, because of their strategic importance, but more recently, because of the potentially vast wealth of oil and gas on the seafloor surrounding them. But territorial disputes, technological risks and unsafe waters are making exploration of those resources less attractive to foreign investors than might be expected with global oil prices hovering near $100 per barrel.

As Asia’s rapidly growing economies call for increasing energy, exploring the region’s natural resources seems increasingly important. Oil consumption in developing countries in Asia will rise by 3 percent per year, on average, between now and 2025, with much of that increase coming from China, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“The overall potential of the region has been known for some time,” says Don Juckett, former director of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Geoscience and Energy Office. However, he says, “some geophysical work has been done, but not much in terms of raw exploration.”

Technology has not been the issue: The geology of the region is relatively simple, consisting largely of buried carbonate reef complexes, and there’s very little of the South China Sea that could be considered ultra-deep, Juckett says. Instead, the delay in developing the South China Sea’s potential resources is caused largely by the territorial squabbles. Few companies will risk the capital when they don’t have a clear idea of what’s down there, he says — and they won’t bring the technology required to explore the area until there is a resolution of the territorial boundaries. In particular, the disputed Spratly Islands, a group of islands and reefs between the Philippines and Vietnam surrounded by potentially rich oil and gas deposits, are claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Furthermore, Juckett says, the region is also notoriously unsafe: Modern pirates roam the well-traveled sea lanes in Southeast Asia and the Far East, armed with GPS and automatic weapons. “It’s considered a fairly high risk factor,” he says. Given the costs and risks, large oil and gas companies are likely to rank the region much lower on their portfolios, he says. As a result, it may be at least 10 years before production would begin, even if exploration began today with no barriers.

China, however, may see the situation differently. The South China Sea’s ocean floor is thought to have more natural gas than oil, and could potentially help supply China’s burgeoning natural gas market. Therefore, if anyone is likely to push forward on exploration in the region, it will be China, Juckett says. “The market is there, and it may be in its strategic interest to bring it online sooner,” he says. China’s imports of foreign oil and gas are at 4 million barrels a day, and rapidly growing. “Like the West-East pipeline, if they decide it’s in the interest of national security, they’ll get it done,” he says.

Uncertainty about where to find the resources is also holding international companies back, but one big discovery would likely bring the companies rushing forward, Juckett says. With that in mind, some countries have agreed to temporarily table their differences and begin exploration cooperatively — agreeing to sort out their territorial claims, and how to parcel whatever they find, at a later date.

One such cooperative project is a seismic survey that was recently conducted by China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) with PetroVietnam and the Philippine National Oil Co.–Exploration Group. Results of that survey were “encouraging,” according to a spokesman for the Philippine corporation, as reported in Business World Online on Dec. 4. The survey was part of a 2005 agreement by the three nations to gather two- and three-dimensional seismic data over three years for a region west of the Philippines island of Palawan. A second phase of the survey, conducted aboard the Chinese vessel M/V Nan Hai 502, began in January 2008.

Meanwhile, some Western oil companies are at least dipping a toe in the region. In 2006, British Gas agreed to partner with CNOOC to conduct seismic surveys of two deepwater oil blocks in the western part of the South China Sea, and to drill one exploration well in each block.

dig more

Global Network of Cities

Anew global urban order is being shaped by the growth of teletechnology. This process encompasses the development of telecommunities as a leading-edge phenomenon, the technological connection of regional and global urban interests, and the mutual reinforcement of technological and socio-economic infrastructures. Two major points for urban analysts emerge: one immediate and practical, the other theoretical, slower-moving, but far-reaching. On the practical level, teletechnology is part of the evolution of the urban net—a global community of cities distinct from countries—and will rapidly increase the ability of global cities to create inter-urban infrastructures separate from traditional nation-to-nation infrastructures.

Saskia Sassen is credited with coining the term "global city" to denote a city which, because of its power and other characteristics, relates to similar cities in other countries more strongly than to the rest of its own country. A good current example of this is Hong Kong. A British Crown Colony from 1843 until its government was ceded to the People's Republic of China in 1997, Hong Kong continues to conduct a liberal capitalist economy. The People's Republic has agreed to allow the city effective autonomy until 2047 in all matters except defense and foreign relations. Since Hong Kong is one of the world's major centers of capitalist enterprise, however, maintaining its own judicial structure, envoys to important global institutions, customs protocols, and immigration regulations, it is hard not to see it as effectively conducting a vigorous de facto foreign relations apparatus. Now that they are being empowered even further by teletechnology, global cities can be expected to increase their cooperation and their formation of a transnational realm of intercity cooperation. We will see more initiatives like the Cities Alliance, a global coalition of cities jointly organized by the World Bank and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). As urban teletechnology use increases, cities will use telecommunity tools increasingly in designing their infrastructures and managing their relationships with regions and outlying communities.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Urban Population

The world’s urban population increased from about 200 million (_15% of world population) in 1900 to 2.9 billion (_50% of world population) in 2000, and the number of cities with populations in excess of 1 million increased from 17 in 1900 to 388 in 2000. As people are increasingly living in cities, and as cities act as both human ecosystem habitats and drivers of ecosystem change, it will become increasingly important to foster urban systems that contribute to human well-being and reduce ecosystem service burdens at all scales

Urbanization is not in itself inherently bad for ecosystems. Many ecosystems in and around urban areas are more biodiverse than rural monocultures are, and they can also provide food, water services, comfort, amenities, cultural values, and so on, particularly if they are well managed. Moreover, urban areas currently only account for about 2.8% of the total land area of Earth, despite containing about half the world’s population

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Global Warming, Biofuel, Kyoto Agreement and Carbon Footprint

What is Global warming?

In the past few years, the world has experienced devastating natural disasters on a level that hasn’t been seen for decades. There is much speculation that these especially strong phenomena are due to global climate change, brought on by Global Warming. The term ‘Global Warming’ refers to the rising temperature of the earth due to an increased amount of greenhouse gases. The scientific community as a whole has determined through all research that global warming is a problem caused by human influence. The burning of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These gases trap the heat from the sun and cause the temperature of our planet to rise. This warming of the globe could potentially alter sea level, crop yield and rain fall, and could increase the intensity and frequency of natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts. For more information on global warming, please visit our research page, our student submission page, or any of the links on the left side of this page. Please also feel free to download our free informational pamphlet and our Global Warming political cartoon.

What is the Kyoto Protocol?
The Kyoto Protocol is not something that our government should have taken lightly. Under its provisions, 37 industrialized nations including Japan and several European countries have all committed themselves to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 33%. We, however - as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases - refused to sign and abide by it, and instead President Bush offered up an alternative plan to deal with Global Warming. He proposed a plan that gives businesses incentives to reduce power plant emissions and greenhouse gas emissions voluntarily. However, this reduction is estimated to be less than 5% over ten years.

Why Didn’t the United States Sign the Kyoto Agreement?
The Bush Administration decided not to sign the Kyoto Protocol for one reason – the economy. President Bush has said on many occasions that the Kyoto Protocol sets unrealistic goals and would hurt the American economy. And so, we’ve become a country that intentionally lowers our expectations to increase our chances of meeting our goals. We’ve become a country that has made it a practice to do what’s profitable, what benefits our economy the most, rather than what’s right for the world. Most of all, we’ve become a country that seems to have more loyalty to ourselves than to the larger whole of which we should be a part – we care more about how we as a country are doing financially than we do about how our world is doing environmentally. We have alienated ourselves in the international environmental community and have become our own separate world. We as Americans are citizens of America (most of us), but we’re more than that – we’re citizens of the world – and we have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, and our planet to clean up our act and do our part to counteract Global Warming.

What is biofuel?
Biofuel is essentially slightly modified used cooking oil. It can be used in any standard diesel engine and can be obtained from many restaurants and establishments for little or no cost. It has virutally no emissions and is safe to use. For more information on biofuel, please click on our “Check Out Biodiesel!” link on the left side of our page.

What is a Carbon Footprint?
The term ‘Carbon Footprint’ refers to the extent of which an individual influences the environment by emitting carbon dioxide and other carbon emissions. It is used as a measure of individual pollution contribution.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Mongolian Tree Rings Confirm Global Warming Findings

Columbia University researchers have discovered unusually rapid growth in recent times in trees from the remote alpine treeline forests in Mongolia, indicating that temperatures in that region rose to their highest levels in the past century.

This latest study, which provides a detailed record of annual temperature-related growth fluctuations from the third century to today, is the first of its kind for this region of Eurasia.

"The results suggest that the temperatures in Mongolia rose to their highest in the past millennium, reaching their peak in the 20th century. The 1999 ring, the widest, indicates the highest temperature reached in this region in the past thousand years," said head researcher Rosanne D'Arrigo from the Tree Ring Lab at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Earth System History and Paleoclimatology programs, is published in the current issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Sampling ancient Siberian pine trees in the Tarvagatay Mountains of west central Mongolia, the scientists analyzed annual growth rings, which generally grow wider during warmer times and narrower in colder periods in such settings.

The researchers developed an exactly dated tree ring chronology, which reflects annual temperatures dating back to 262 AD. This latest discovery helps to fill in a large gap in paleoclimatic data from a remote and previously unsampled region of the globe.

"This is an important piece of the puzzle on global warming," said D'Arrigo, who noted that Mongolia was essentially closed to western researchers until 10 years ago and that very few records of past climates exist for north Asia. "Our results from Mongolia fit into the overall picture of warming indicated for other areas of the globe."

Such records help scientists determine whether higher temperatures in recent decades may be a signature of global warming, possibly caused by human activity rather than the earth's natural variability. By comparing the tree rings with other evidence, scientists will improve our understanding of whether the anthropogenic (human-induced) release of trace gases into the atmosphere is the cause of recent warming, or whether other factors, such as solar or volcanic activity, have played more critical roles in the Earth's climate in recent years.

The temperature fluctuations inferred from the Mongolian tree rings are strikingly similar to those seen in a network of tree ring records from sites at northern and alpine treeline in North America, Europe and Russia, including the Taymir Peninsula in Siberia.

These tree ring series, spanning much of the circumpolar northern treeline, have been compiled to create a long-term reconstruction of the Earth's temperature over centuries.

The new chronology, in addition to its value as a detailed record of Mongolian climate, provides independent corroboration for such hemispheric and global reconstructions and their indications of unusual warming during the 20th century.

This research indicates that the most severe cold occurred during the 19th century, the latter part of a period known as the "Little Ice Age." Unusual cold and frost also occurred in AD 536-545, coinciding with extremes found in other historical records, including evidence of severe cold in tree rings in areas of North America and Europe, and historical accounts of widespread famine and plague in China and the Middle East.

The Mongolia chronology helps confirm that a volcanic or other event caused major climatic effects at this time.

These global climatic changes may have profound effects in Mongolia, which has a largely agrarian-based economy. Livestock and food crops are major enterprises and land management for these purposes is extremely important. The greater understanding of climate extremes and possible causes gleaned from tree rings and other extended records can lead to better planning and agricultural management in the future.

Founded in 1949, The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is the only research center in the world examining the planet from its core to its atmosphere. This multi-disciplinary approach by more than 200 researchers cuts across every continent and ocean, revolutionizing our understanding of the planet's origin, history and, increasingly, its future. - By Lauren Marshall
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

India:Myths and Reality

Myth 1: Faster economic growth in urban India, rather than in rural India, is driving rapid migration to the cities. In reality, India’s rural economy has grown on average by 7.3% year-over-year over the past decade, against 5.4% in the urban sector. Per capita rural income growth has been more than double that of urban India (though admittedly starting from a significantly lower base). Our calculations using the latest Central Statistic Organization figures suggest that the rural economy accounted for 51% of India’s national domestic product in 2005-06, up from 49% in 2000 and 46% in 1993-94.

The process of urbanization is actually slowing down as economic growth is taking off—a peculiar trend for a developing country. For that, thank federal and state government policies which have discouraged urban industrial employment—rigid labour laws that govern hiring and firing in larger organizations, lengthy bureaucratic notifications, restrictions on overtime—and a critical lack of urban infrastructure investment. On a more local level, city governments haven’t managed their books prudently, and don’t have capital to invest.

The effect of India’s slowing urbanization isn’t yet known. But if the cities aren’t able to absorb and employ unskilled workers, then rural economies may have to play an even more significant role in transitioning workers from agriculture into more productive parts of the economy. And for them to do so, they’ll need more tax breaks, more simplified regulations and less corruption at the state level—all issues that policymakers rarely address.

Myth 2: Rural India is still an agricultural economy. As of 2000, agriculture accounted for just over half of rural economic activity, down from 64% in the early 1980s and 72% in 1971. Services, on the other hand, now account for 28% of rural activity, up from 21% in 1981, while manufacturing, utilities and construction have nearly doubled their share in the rural economy to 18% in 2000 from just under 10% in 1971. The growth has been led, in large part, by three industries: manufacturing; construction; and trade, hotels and restaurants.

The manufacturing trend is especially encouraging, as many of India’s rural workers don’t have the skills to win jobs in the country’s fast-growing services sector. Since 1971, real manufacturing output in rural India has grown by five times, against two times for urban India. The rural economy accounts for 42% of total manufacturing output and 27% of services as of 2000—and it is likely that its share has since grown.

While it’s clear that the government can’t leave farmers in the lurch, Delhi has done comparatively little to encourage the growth of the manufacturing sector, whether through tax breaks or other economic incentives.

Myth 3: Rural-urban inequality is on the rise. India’s urban-rural income gap, the ratio of mean urban to rural incomes, diminished to 2.8 in 2000 from 3.3 in the early 1990s. Of course, absolute levels of spending are still dramatically skewed, because urban households are far richer than their rural counterparts. At the margin, however, that’s changing. Between 2000 and 2005, real rural household consumption expenditure grew by 8% against 4% in urban India.

Unfortunately, Delhi still focuses mainly on rural inequality— and is enacting policies that could only worsen the situation. Policies like the Rural Employment Guarantee Act (which provides 100 days of work in a year to any rural household)—leaving aside the shortfalls in implementation—move in a more interventionist direction in the face of strengthening market forces. At the same time, urban infrastructure investment needs a heavier policy push. The rural poor already receive almost twice as much housing assistance per capita as the urban poor. At 0.6% of GDP, total urban spending in India as a share of GDP has remained stagnant for the past 15 years.

If there’s a lesson to be learnt from all of this, it’s that urban growth and rural growth aren’t distinct and separate phenomena. Our study suggests that a Rs100 increase in urban consumption could lead to an increase in rural household incomes of up to Rs39—no small feedback, and a strong counter to the popular perception of “two Indias”. If India’s cities keep growing at their current pace, in aggregate 6.3 million non-farm jobs in rural areas (more than the total number of new professional services jobs projected over the next 10 years) and $91 billion in real rural household income could be created over the next decade.

Urban consumption also generates non-farm employment. A 10% increase in urban expenditure is associated with a 4.8% increase in rural non-farm employment.

Agricultural growth—even envisaging improved productivity—will not sustain the rural economy on its own. It’s the urban-rural linkages—if understood properly—that could provide a way to solve India’s semi-skilled employment crisis. It’s time to stop talking about “two Indias” and to start framing an economic policy for one country.

Edited excerpts from The Wall Street Journal.

maps and projections

Maps are flat, but the surfaces they represent are curved. Transforming, three-dimensional space onto a two dimensional map is called "projection". This process inevitably distorts at least one of the following properties:
• Shape,
• Area,
• Distance,
• Direction, and often more.
It is known that a globe is a true representation of the earth, which is divided into various sectors by the lines of latitudes and longitudes. This network is called 'graticule'. A map projection denotes the preparation of the graticule on a flat surface.

Theoretically map projection might be defined as "a systematic drawing of parallels of latitude and meridians of longitudes on a plane surface for the whole earth or a part of it on a certain scale so that any point on the earth surface may correspond to that on the drawing."

Necessity of Map Projection
An ordinary globe is rendered useless for reference to a small country. It is not possible to make a globe on a very large scale. Say, if anyone wants to make a globe on a scale of one inch to a mile, the radius will be 330 ft. It is difficult to make and handle such a globe and uncomfortable to carry it in the field for reference. Not only topographical maps of different scales but also atlas and wall maps would not have been possibly made without the use of certain projections. So a globe is least useful or helpful in the field of practical purposes. Moreover it is neither easy to compare different regions over the globe in detail, nor convenient to measure distances over it. Therefore for different types of maps different projections have been evolved in accordance with the scale and purpose of the map.

Selection of Map Projection
There is no ideal map projection, but representation for a given purpose can be achieved. The selection of projection is made on the basis of the following:

The location and the extension of the feature of the globe.
1. The shape of the boundary to be projected.
2. The deformations or distortions of a map to be minimized.
3. The mathematical model to be applied to preserve some identity of graphical features.
Based on these characteristics the utility of the projection is ascertained.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Agrobiodiversity is a sub-set of general biodiversity including all cultivated varieties. Cultivated varieties can be broadly classified into “modern varieties” and “farmer’s or traditional varieties”. Modern varieties are the outcome of scientific breeding and are characterised by a high yield and a high degree of genetic uniformity. In contrast, farmer’s varieties (also known as landraces) are the product of breeding or selection carried out by farmers. They represent higher levels of genetic diversity and are therefore the focus of most conservation efforts. Agricultural biodiversity contributes to food security and livelihood security and underpins the development of all food production. It is the first link in the food chain, developed and safeguarded by farmers, livestock breeders, forest workers, fishermen and indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Global Warming and Ozone Hole

The ozone hole is a thinning of the stratosphere's ozone layer, which is roughly 9 to 31 miles above the earth's surface. The depletion of the ozone is due to man-made chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A thinner ozone layer lets more harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation to reach the earth's surface.

Global warming, on the other hand, is the increase in the earth's average temperature due to the buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activities.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sea Level Rise

Global mean sea level has been rising at an average rate of 1 to 2 mm/year over the past 100 years, which is significantly larger than the rate averaged over the last several thousand years. Projected increase from 1990-2100 is anywhere from 0.09-0.88 meters, depending on which greenhouse gas scenario is used and many physical uncertainties in contributions to sea-level rise from a variety of frozen and unfrozen water sources.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Is the hydrological cycle (evaporation and precipitation) changing?

Overall, land precipitation for the globe has increased by ~2% since 1900, however, precipitation changes have been spatially variable over the last century. Instrumental records show that there has been a general increase in precipitation of about 0.5-1.0%/decade over land in northern mid-high latitudes, except in parts of eastern Russia. However, a decrease of about -0.3%/decade in precipitation has occurred during the 20th century over land in sub-tropical latitudes, though this trend has weakened in recent decades. Due to the difficulty in measuring precipitation, it has been important to constrain these observations by analyzing other related variables. The measured changes in precipitation are consistent with observed changes in streamflow, lake levels, and soil moisture (where data are available and have been analyzed).

Northern Hemisphere annual snow cover extent has consistently remained below average since 1987, and has decreased by about 10% since 1966. This is mostly due to a decrease in spring and summer snowfall over both the Eurasian and North American continents since the mid-1980s. However, winter and autumn snow cover extent has shown no significant trend for the northern hemisphere over the same period.

Improved satellite data shows that a general trend of increasing cloud amount over both land and ocean since the early 1980s, seems to have reversed in the early 1990s, and total cloud amount of land and ocean now appears to be decreasing. However, there are several studies that suggest regional cloudiness, perhaps especially in the thick precipitating clouds has increased over the 20th century.

Is the hydrological cycle (evaporation and precipitation) changing?

Overall, land precipitation for the globe has increased by ~2% since 1900, however, precipitation changes have been spatially variable over the last century. Instrumental records show that there has been a general increase in precipitation of about 0.5-1.0%/decade over land in northern mid-high latitudes, except in parts of eastern Russia. However, a decrease of about -0.3%/decade in precipitation has occurred during the 20th century over land in sub-tropical latitudes, though this trend has weakened in recent decades. Due to the difficulty in measuring precipitation, it has been important to constrain these observations by analyzing other related variables. The measured changes in precipitation are consistent with observed changes in streamflow, lake levels, and soil moisture (where data are available and have been analyzed).

Northern Hemisphere annual snow cover extent has consistently remained below average since 1987, and has decreased by about 10% since 1966. This is mostly due to a decrease in spring and summer snowfall over both the Eurasian and North American continents since the mid-1980s. However, winter and autumn snow cover extent has shown no significant trend for the northern hemisphere over the same period.

Improved satellite data shows that a general trend of increasing cloud amount over both land and ocean since the early 1980s, seems to have reversed in the early 1990s, and total cloud amount of land and ocean now appears to be decreasing. However, there are several studies that suggest regional cloudiness, perhaps especially in the thick precipitating clouds has increased over the 20th century.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is the climate becoming more variable or extreme?

On a global scale there is little evidence of sustained trends in climate variability or extremes. This perhaps reflects inadequate data and a dearth of analyses. However, on regional scales, there is clear evidence of changes in variability or extremes.

In areas where a drought or excessive wetness usually accompanies an El Niño, these dry or wet spells have been more intense in recent years. Other than these areas, little evidence is available of changes in drought frequency or intensity.

In some areas where overall precipitation has increased (ie. the mid-high northern latitudes), there is evidence of increases in the heavy and extreme precipitation events. Even in areas such as eastern Asia, it has been found that extreme precipitation events have increased despite total precipitation remaining constant or even decreasing somewhat. This is related to a decrease in the frequency of precipitation in this region.

Many individual studies of various regions show that extra-tropical cyclone activity seems to have generally increased over the last half of the 20th century in the northern hemisphere, but decreased in the southern hemisphere. It is not clear whether these trends are multi-decadal fluctuations or part of a longer-term trend.

Where reliable data are available, tropical storm frequency and intensity show no significant long-term trend in any basin. There are apparent decadal-interdecadal fluctuations, but nothing which is conlusive in suggesting a longer-term component.

Global temperature extremes have been found to exhibit no significant trend in interannual variability, but several studies suggest a significant decrease in intra-annual variability. There has been a clear trend to fewer extremely low minimum temperatures in several widely-separated areas in recent decades. Widespread significant changes in extreme high temperature events have not been observed.

There is some indication of a decrease in day-to-day temperature variability in recent decades.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

El Nino and Global Warming

El Niños are not caused by global warming. Clear evidence exists from a variety of sources (including archaeological studies) that El Niños have been present for hundreds, and some indicators suggest maybe millions, of years. However, it has been hypothesized that warmer global sea surface temperatures can enhance the El Niño phenomenon, and it is also true that El Niños have been more frequent and intense in recent decades. Recent climate model results that simulate the 21st century with increased greenhouse gases suggest that El Niño-like sea surface temperature patterns in the tropical Pacific are likely to be more persistent.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


El Niño and La Niña are officially defined as sustained sea surface temperature anomalies of magnitude greater than 0.5°C across the central tropical Pacific Ocean. When the condition is met for a period of less than five months, it is classified as El Niño or La Niña conditions; if the anomaly persists for five months or longer, it is classified as an El Niño or La Niña episode. Historically, it has occurred at irregular intervals of 2-7 years and has usually lasted one or two years.

The first signs of an El Niño are:

  1. Rise in air pressure over the Indian Ocean, Indonesia, and Australia
  2. Fall in air pressure over Tahiti and the rest of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean
  3. Trade winds in the south Pacific weaken or head east
  4. Warm air rises near Peru, causing rain in the deserts there
  5. Warm water spreads from the west Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the east Pacific. It takes the rain with it, causing rainfall in normally dry areas and extensive drought in eastern areas.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is unquestionably real and helps to regulate the temperature of our planet. It is essential for life on Earth and is one of Earth's natural processes. It is the result of heat absorption by certain gases in the atmosphere (called greenhouse gases because they effectively 'trap' heat in the lower atmosphere) and re-radiation downward of some of that heat. Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas, followed by carbon dioxide and other trace gases. Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the Earth would be about zero degrees F (-18°C) instead of its present 57°F (14°C). So, the concern is not with the fact that we have a greenhouse effect, but whether human activities are leading to an enhancement of the greenhouse effect.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Greenhouse Gases

Human activity has been increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide from combustion of coal, oil, and gas; plus a few other trace gases). There is no scientific debate on this point. Pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide (prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution) were about 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv), and current levels are about 370 ppmv. The concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere today, has not been exceeded in the last 420,000 years, and likely not in the last 20 million years. According to the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES), by the end of the 21st century, we could expect to see carbon dioxide concentrations of anywhere from 490 to 1260 ppm (75-350% above the pre-industrial concentration).

Friday, February 1, 2008

Geographic Information System

A geographic information system (GIS) organizes data spatially. Natural features (a mountain range or river) and events (an earthquake or flood) as well as human activities can be linked by their location. This data can be georeferenced through a set of common place or area names, or through coordinates. .Field data can also be accurately georeferenced via Global Positions System (GPS). Once such georeferenced data are spatially organized, they can be used to study patterns of human activities and their impacts on the physical landscape, or vice versa in the case of natural disaster planning and response. Georeferenced observations of such activities – fertility, mortality, disease, crop yields, roads, towns, administrative divisions, or a whole country – can be ‘layered’ and used to study patterns of human activities and their consequences. In the Balkan countries, GIS was used to document the horrific results of a systematic pattern of destruction and ‘ethnic cleansing’.