Meiying Lin

Silver lining

Three decades ago, scholars still argued about how the rapid growth of the human population was under control and may not necessarily lead to a climate change, resource crisis or ecological disaster (Caffey. et al, 1990). No one is that optimistic about the population explosion or climate change any more. These two issues are currently the most urgent matter for any policy maker around the globe.

It is predicted that the world will witness over 9 million of population growth within the future five decades. This demographic trend will directly lead to the increase of energy consumption, CO2 emission or industrial pollution, severing global warming, changing climate pattern and hence jeopardising eco-balance.

Along with the increase population density, the population aging has been another serious issue especially in economic develop countries. The downside of aging is evident in literature: such as reducing workability, productivity and commercial of a economy entirely.

Although the population growth has directly impact to human activities and hence plays a defining role in greenhouse gas emission and power consumption, how aged group will impact the speed of climate change (and other issues) are almost unexplored in academic area. In a recent published paper “Population ageing, income growth and CO2 emission: Empirical evidence from high income OECD countries ” (Kamrul Hassan, 2015), the results show despite the harmful human activities to the environment and economy, this phenomenon (created by population growth) is self-limiting.15 develop sample countries have presented are in the downward sloping region of environmental Kuznets curve (EKC), indicating a decreasing trend in pollution and greenhouse gas emission. 10 countries are still at the upward sloping region, and once they reach the turning point on EKC, the CO2 emission will begin to drop. This means the aging population actually has a counterpart effect to the environmental effect and will reduce the climate change. This result provides insight to policy maker, to consider the trade-off between population growth and aging. Government should consider stopping the intervention to population aging, especially in these 15 sample countries. This study presents a solution to future population growth and its consequence. At a cost of reducing economic growth, the aging population could possibly reduce the global warming.

Similarly, global health expert at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, Hans Rosling, projected that if we only invest renewable and sustainable technology and control climate change, and if the energy is still resource sustainable, the world population growth may stop at 2050. These research results surprisingly show that human activities’ damage to the world is not inevitable. It is upon the current policy-maker to shift the growing trend of population to a stable level.


The environmental Kuznets curve is established from
Kuznet Curve which describes an inverted U-shape 
relationship between income inequality and economy 
(Kuznets, 1955).It is commonly used to analysis the 
effect to environment in relation to economic development. 

Reference

Daniel Caffey Walter Block, (1999),”POSTPONING ARMAGEDDON: WHY POPULATION GROWTH ISN’T OUT OF CONTROL”, Humanomics, Vol. 15 Iss 4 pp. 66 – 79

Kamrul Hassan , Ruhul Salim , (2015) “Population ageing, income growth and CO2 emission: Empirical evidence from high income OECD countries”, Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 42 Iss: 1, pp.54 – 67

Kuznets, S. (1955), “Economic growth and income inequality”, American Economic Review , Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 1-28. 

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Meiying Lin

Interview: Innovation and sustainability: how technology change our future 

With the population growth, one of the most important changes to corporations lies in their roles of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Maximising the profit is no longer the sole goal for big companies- they are demanded to help alleviate the environmental harm without compromising their competitiveness. This is a task of massive magnitude. It is still impossible for firms to prioritise their real profit over environment effort. Major corporations are introducing methods to satisfy both profitability and responsibility. Sustainable technology is a solution. In manufacturing industry, a pollution-prevention-pays plan was proposed to reduce the pollution by applying latest pollution process method. The construction of this interview referenced an early interview with Patrick Deconinck, senior vice present Western Europe for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M), an leading manufacturing company, with distribution sites in over 30 countries around the globe (Gareth Bell, 2013).

In 2013, 3M western Europe division has saved $ 1.5 billion on budget because of technology innovation and 3.5 billion pounds of pollution by 3M’s continuing sustainability program. Interviews on company leaders can help understand if such strategically pattern is replicable in other sector for reaching environmental and financial goals. This post present an interview questions for corporate leaders in order to learn their make decision between pure economic reasonable with consideration to environmental sustainability. The purpose of this interview is to look for how corporate executives view on technology innovation, to eliminate environmental effect. Due to the time limit, only part of the interview was able to be carried out. Follow-up questions are listed for the next session.


Interview Questions

Q1. What is a customer-led innovation strategy and how is it important to your company?

A: Working with community is an essential action to achieve better relationship with client. Because of the expected expansion in the market share, especially in the US, the communities are regarded as the fundamental unit for the KPI of increasing the number of the locations economic contribution. The responsibility to these communities also increased accordingly. In addition, the company and its employees are proud to work for the sustainable development of Ashtead community service.

One method of the business model is to help people get things done. This is about finding a solution, especially when there is an emergency or disaster, such as a flood or hurricane. Resulting in communities in which they operate is an important differentiating factor for Ashtead staff and is attracted to new recruits.

Q2. How do you think of the CSR for your organisation? Would you consider limiting the environmental effect important to the corporation development?

A: To have CSR is important for any enterprises. The company aims to fulfill the environmental obligations in order to make better relation with customers in general.

Q3. How can innovative technology offset the harmful byproducts? Are there any far-reaching technological innovation that can ensure both the profitability and sustainability?

AWe have been conducting specific measures to offset harmful byproducts, they  are: Supervision and management comply with relevant environmental laws and regulations (such as the introduction of the United States four engines) and requirements, and self-audit in order to maintain compliance; Investment in the rental fleet is updated regularly to ensure that the company provides the customers with the latest environmental technology that Ashtead choose from the manufacturers, in the case of a possible offer of equipment; To ensure that the stores have adequate security and safe way of operation, protect the environment, key issues include: flushing release the collection and safe disposal of the bay, when the board check and return the rental material cleaning equipment; sealer to ensure that the paint shop spray booths and equipment can be safely and securely; Bonded fuel tank to ensure the safety of the fleet, under the relevant circumstances; Ensure that appropriate arrangements, by using reputable suppliers, to collect and dispose of waste fuel and oil, tires and other old or damaged part, the service and maintenance the rental fleet; Investment in a modern and efficient fleet, so that the company can ensure good fuel efficiency and emission management of the vehicles were purchased; In practical situations, to ensure that the control the noise and potential damage,  in shops around, to unduly affect the surrounding communities. By a significant increase in waste recycling, reduce the landfill.

(follow up question)

Q4. The economy has been incredibly difficult in the whole Europe zone. As leader of how is this affected your company, and how can you make sure your firm are robust   enough to endure such turbulent times and still make profit to shareholders?

Q5. How do you think of the importance of R&D? Some believes that reducing Research and Development (R&D) investment is a mean to reduce budget and therefore maintain profitability for investors in the short term in such a market. Do you agree with such statement? Could you consider it on your position and whether you feel R&D is important or not to your firm’s success?

Q6. What do you think is role that businesses should play taking account of sustainability and environmental issues? Should they be prioritise for a corporate?

Q7. How difficult to maintain cohesion across such a dispersed organization? And how can you do this?


Reference

Interview by Gareth Bell, (2013) “Innovating for a sustainable future: an interview with Patrick Deconinck, Senior Vice President Western Europe for 3M”, Strategic Direction, Vol. 29 Iss: 3, pp.36 – 38

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Meiying Lin

Anthropogene – The definition, boundary and relevant issues

The Anthropocene is a geological term, which has been brought up widely recently. It stands for the era when human activities have the main influence on the Earth. The global impact changes the atmosphere, biosphere, marine and terrestrial environment on Earth. The academic circle first discussed to what extent human affect have the Earth systems such as the impact of greenhouse gases emission, shrinking species or sea level rise.

In paper ”When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal” (Jan Zalasiewicz, 2015), the authors evaluate the geological time interval of the boundary of the Anthropocene as an era. Three main period of Anthropogene is defined: the early era, the beginning of Industrial Revolution (post 1800 AD) and ‘Great Acceleration’ of the mid-twentieth century (after the Second World War) till now.

It has been a debatable issue for the last few years to define the Anthropocene Epoch among the media, academics and the general public. One main issue addressed to the Anthropocene is where the starting points (i.e. the boundary) should it be. 140 years ago, a termed ‘ Anthropozoic era’ was initially proposed to reflect the human impact to the Earth (Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000 and Crutzen, 2002). After over 100 years of study, the term has been widely accepted (Steffen et al., 2007). In 2011, The Economist magazine had issued a special edition covering this topic, reviewing academic articles for the top-tier journals (such as Science and Nature). In both social science and geology, the designation of Anthropocene is a milestone for it was built since 1873 by Antoion Stoppani, an Italian geologist, (Crutzen, 2000 and Crutzen 2011). It is formally established by Zalasiewicz et al (2015) and accepted as new era within the International Chronostratigraphic Chart. Williams et al., 2011 and Waters et al., 2014a have published their examination, aimed at examining the geologically justification of Anthropocene, the usefulness of its formalization is useful, and the definition and characteristic. 

The damage of human activities has everything to do with growing population. At present, the world population is over 7 billion, producing an accelerating amount of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane (Crutzen and Steffen, 2003). Similarly, the land and ocean have been experiencing an explosion of human exploration: lumbering, farming, fishing, factory building or oil extracting. In every sector, human activities have proven to be altering/damaging the global eco-system at a speed so much fast than the self-adapt speed of the Earth. Al Gore, the former US vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner at 2007, is now devoting his life in climate-change research. In his keynote at TED in 2009, he presented his research results of how human activities and growing population have accelerated climate crisis at a pace so worse than we predicted (keynote available at http://www.ted.com/talks/al_gore_s_new_thinking_on_the_climate_crisis).

Other issue of Anthropocene lies in the impact to environment, to future humanity and the security of human life. Despite the ever-growing greenhouse effect and climate, the biodiversity has been a serious issue. A termed called ‘biopolitics’ is created for liberal societies. Climate change is merely one direct reason of the biodiversity issue and controlling climate change is one of strategies ‘biopolitics’ solution.


Reference

Crutzen, P.J., Stoermer, E.F., 2000. The “Anthropocene”. Global Change Newsletter 41, 17e18.

Crutzen, P.J., 2002. Geology of mankind. Nature 415, 23. Davis, R.V., 2011. Inventing the present: historical roots of the Anthropocene. Earth Science History 30, 63e84.

Jan Zalasiewicz et al , When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal, Quaternary International, Volume 383, 5 October 2015, Pages 196-203, ISSN 1040-6182, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.11.045.

Mike Walker, Phil Gibbard, John Lowe, Comment on “When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary is stratigraphically optimal” by Jan Zalasiewicz et al. (2015), Quaternary International, 383, 196–203

Quaternary International, Volume 383, 5 October 2015, Pages 204-207

Steffen, W., Crutzen, P.J., McNeill, J.R., 2007. The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of Nature? Ambio 36, 614e621

Williams, M., Zalasiewicz, J., Waters, C.N., Landing, E., 2014. Is the fossil record of complex animal behaviour a stratigraphical analogue for the Anthropocene? In: Waters, C.N., Zalasiewicz, J.,

Waters, C.N., Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Ellis, M.A., Snelling, A., 2014b. A stratigraphical basis for the Anthropocene? In: Waters, C.N., Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Ellis, M.A., Snelling, A. (Eds.), A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene, Geological Society, London, Special Publications 395, pp. 1e21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1144/SP395.18. First Published Online March 24, 2014

Williams, M., Ellis, M.A., Snelling, A. (Eds.), A Stratigraphical Basis for the Anthropocene, Geological Society, London, Special Publications 395, pp. 143e148. http://dx.doi.org/10.1144/SP395.8. First Published Online October 25, 2013

Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., 2014. The Anthropocene: a comparison with the OrdovicianeSilurian boundary. Rendiconti Lincei, Scienze fisische e naturali 25 (1), 5e12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12210-013-0265-x. First Published Online December 3, 2013

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Meiying Lin

Big Data Mining – A new solution to the population growth

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times; it is the age of information explosion and it is also the age of big data mining. There was a time when the internet of things (IoT) and cloud computing were the state-of-the-art computing technologies. They are partly the reason and solution for the explosion of information.

In the year of 2006, the International Data Cooperation (IDC) has initiated a program named “digital universe”. Through the statistics, the project has predicted that the total global data shall increase from 0.18 ZB to 1.8 ZB within in 5 years (Grantz, 2008). There are uncountable sources of the flood of data, for examples:

The daily data scale is up to 1 TB at the New Yorker 
Stock Exchange. There are roughly 100 billion images 
(estimated size 1 PB) posted on Facebook.
Ancestry.com stores up to 2.5 PB of data in total.
Data scale has been increasing at the speed of 20 TB 
monthly at The Internet Archive.
A large hadrons collider near Geneva, Switzerland produces
15 PB of data annually.  (Microsoft Research, 2014)

It is not only the major cooperates, database or academic institute that have been generating data at such large scale, but also we, as individuals and consumers, are contributing to the development. The data that an individual produces has been growing at an exponential speed according to a research of MyLifeBits project, conducted by Microsoft.

Despite the significant use in science, commercial or social media sector, the big data process technology has great importance for the earth and environment with the dramatic population growth. The scientific tools and technology must adapt the exponent expansion of data in the natural resource, population and geographic information and environment. To better process the information in human geography and environmental sector, we gain a greater knowledge in the Earth we live in. As the growing issues in environmental sector, such as the climate change, the use of sustainable energy resource or space exploration, an application that evolves the research from raw discovery and basic data sampling, and can process a whole range of data is needed. Cloud computing or IoT has helped the extraction of environmental data, but more timely application such as distribute file system can process mess data most effectively. In the book Hadoop: The Definitive Guide (by Tom White), it is presented how high performance data mining tools could change the current information process systems in geographic information. With the distribute file system, a century of meteorological data, with hourly temporal resolution, for example, will only require 42 minutes to be processed compared servers running at full-load for hours to days in the past. The implementation of unstructured information will completely transform the contemporary data efficiency, statistic methodology and geographic information systems.

Developing computer science and technologies will better capture, analyse, visualise and modelling environment information and to assist researcher, scientist and policy-maker to be better informed as in decision-making process.


A measurement for data size. 1 ZB (Zettabyte) = 103 EB  
(Exabyte) = 106 PB (Petabytes) = 109 TB ( Terabytes) = 1021 B (Byte)   


Reference:

Grantz et al, The diverse and Exploding Digital Universe. [Online] Available at: http://china.emc.com//collateral/analyst-report/expanding-digital-idc-white paper.pdf. March 1, 2008

Microsoft Research.(2015). MyLifeBits. Available at:http://research.microsoft.com/enus/project/myLifebits//defautl.aspx.

Tom White., Doug Cutting, Hadoop Guide version 3.2012. O’Reilly Media, inc. Page 22-80.

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Meiying Lin

How well do you know about river system in the Anthropocene?

Nowadays, each of the components of our earth system is influenced by human activities in some way. All kinds of agriculture, industrial production activities are directly reflected that human activities in driving the changes of the earth system. Earth has entered a new era of geologic epoch — the Anthropocene. But in the mean time, how well do you know about the Anthropocene?

Human activities are driven the change of the river system and influenced its sediment flux for over 3000 years. Deforestation, transportation, mining and agriculture makes a strong impact to geological climate. By sixteenth Century, the development of modern society began to transform the environment. The disturbance of soil was more frequent in that period. (Syvitski & Kettner 2011) Though a long period of human pressure impact on all aspects of terrestrial aquatic systems. Canada and Alaska, the Amazon, the Congo Basn and a few parts of the Siberian rivers is the only place that still retains original state in the earth nowadays. From a global point of view, there are a series of major changes in the terrestrial aquatic system after entering the Anthropocene. For instance fragmentation, sediment imbalance, neo–arheism, salinization, chemical contamination, acidification, eutrophication and microbial contamination. (Meybeck 2003) The impact of human activities in river system are extremely strong.

Human activities caused accelerated erosion of river sedimentation and morphology, though dam building, agriculture and other land mining activities. According to the record, we currently have over 45000 dam is more than 15m high. Large reservoirs have changed the time and intensity of water flow, not only dissolved substances, but also made the material particles, and changed the position and way of chemical reactions. At the same time, these dams are also separated by rivers, cracked landscapes and habitats of aquatic animals, creating new deposits and carbon pool. (National Research Council Processes 2010). On a global scale, the annual dam reduces a huge amount of sediment to the coast. Even though soil erosion and river transportation, the dam sediments are constantly increasing every year. (National Research Council Processes 2010).

If you still thought that the ‘Anthropocene’ is just a publicity of human wisdom and creativity, and still wasting a variety of resources of our only home, you are making a huge mistake! The earth is not only a belong to humanity, but also every living beings on the earth. The ‘anthropocene’ is NOT let human to become the haughty dominator of the earth. The ‘anthropocene’ is a manifesto to remind us the strong responsibility of becoming the caregivers of the earth. To take on this responsibility, we must change the traditional mode of economic growth and achieve a sustainable development. Our earth provides us enough resources to meet every living being’s need, but it can’t meet everyone’s greed. Think about our children and grandchildren 500 years later, when they will happy to live on our earth and they did not describe us as the barbarians who have destroyed their homes!


References:

Syvitski,J.P.M., Kettner, A. 2011, ‘Sediment flux and the Anthropocene’, The Royal Society, 31 January, viewed 20 August 2015, <http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1938/957&gt;.

Meybeck, M., 2003, ‘Biological Sciences’, Global analysis of river systems: From Earth system controls to Anthropocene syndromes, 29 December, 358(1 440): 1 935-1 955.

Dybesuis, M., Nilsson, C., 1994, ‘Science’, Fragmentation and flow regulation of river systems in the northern third of the world, 266: 753-762.

National Research Council Processes, 2010, ‘Land scapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth’s Surface’, The National Academies Press, Washington, USA.

 

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