The Tree

This week I’ve seen news of a lot of really bad weather. Tornadoes, blizzards, floods…. It would be interesting to see an analysis of the costs. The National Centers for Environmental Information have studied the issue. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview introduces some of the issues in performing an analysis. This graph is interesting and it has a cut off of events costing 1 billion or more, so it still ignores many substantial disasters.

Some people scoff that these costs are not serious, that they’re not increasing or that to talk about the cost of climate change as being a threat to the country is ludicrous. I think that is very ostrich-like–if we willfully don’t look at it, it won’t be a problem.

Some countries have higher stakes in the climate. Some of the Pacific island nations can’t survive the sea level going up–they won’t have any land to be a nation over. I remember the glaciers that have shrunken so dramatically in the Rockies. Greenland and the Antarctic are melting too. If you calculate the volume of ice in those two places and divide it by the surface area of the ocean, if even part of them melt, the ocean will flood many places. Eventually, beach front property won’t be a good investment anymore.

A fallen tree crushing the sidewalkBut, more to home, I found some branches on the sidewalk from my tree. I was pretty fortunate. None of them were really big–I could break them into smaller pieces with my knee. My neighbors to the west had more serious problems with their tree last year. The extreme cold killed about 3/4 of the tree and the city cut it down before it hurt someone. The picture isn’t of my tree, but I thought it fit–I’ve been really fortunate and am grateful.

There are several projects to add annotation to the Internet. The idea is that people can add comments to pages that are available to anyone without any changes to the web page by the web site administrators.  I think it’s really an exciting development.

The one that I’m most familiar with is  They have a Chrome extension and the ability to work with Firefox as well as other platforms.

When I open the extension, in the right margin is a small bar listing the comments and highlighted areas of the page. An annotation is attached to a specific part of the web page so that you can highlight individual sentences or phrases. As you scroll, the annotations appear as small tags in the margins and take up very little screen real estate.

The annotations can be public or private. One may add tags. The comments can include graphics and mathematical typesetting using LaTeX notations.

Here’s an example of an annotation:

There are many ways of using it. The project allows scientists to give information about climate change documents and evaluate the articles scientific qualities.

With private annotations, one may use tags to tie together different resources for a research project.

This is a dynamic, developing project and I’m really can see how useful it could become.