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Tag "world"

NASA satellites are observing the wild fires around the world. From satellite images the occurrence and spreading of bush fires are clearly visible. In a summary of the fires over the last ten years

The visualisations show fire observations made by the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instruments onboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The data on fires is combined with satellite views of vegetation and snow cover to show how fires relate to seasonal changes. This is really the interesting part. The visualisation beautifully shows the change over a long time period and the movements in the landscape based on the shift, growth and burning of nature. Even though bush fires are devastating disasters the visualisation shows ohw they integrate with the other elements.

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Population Growth – a Problem of Scales

The end of October has according to the UN office for statistics officially marked the population growth reached 7billion. This is seven billion individuals living on planet earth, an astonishing number. On October 31st the 7th billion child was born.

Astonishing it is in regards to the unprecedented growth during only the past 200 years. Back in 1927 the world population was recorded as only 2 billion and in 1804 it was just 1 billion. 

UN 2004 projections
Image taken from Wikipedia / World population from 1800 to 2100, based on UN 2004 projections and US Census Bureau historical estimates.

The number however, is only calculated, an estimate at best. The UN statistics office specifies the error margin at 1%. Translated to the time window the 7th billion individual will be born, this margin is 12 month. This is six month before or after the end of October.

This margin might be quite good in relation to the 200,000 years modern humans already inhabit planet earth. Even across the past 100 years, since the beginning of the dramatic population growth, this might seem like a acceptable margin. 

To make the story easier accessible to the general public the UN chooses to award the title of the 7th billion inhabitant to an individual, personalising the message. This has been the practice for the past 3 instances where the population crossed the billion mark. 

The UN officially choose a baby girl named Danica Camacho born in the Philippines as the 7 billionth inhabitant. Previous title holders are 12-year-old Adnan Nevic of Bosnia Herzogovina born in 1999 and Matej Gaspar from Croatia, who was number five billion, born in 1987. It is to a large extend of course a political decision. To give the title to a child born in the region of the former Yugoslavia torn apart by war the years before is a clear signal of hope and welcome.

UN 2004 projections
Image by Elvis Barukcic/AFP taken form the Guardian / Adnan Nevic in Visoko.

On this personal level the decision of course touches a very different scale. For the individual the error margin of 12 month makes a dramatic difference. A year holds so much for a pre born and newborn. Also for the rest of us, actually 6’999’9999 live can change in this time drama dramatically. This makes it difficult to relate to the error time frame. 

The understanding for global management of challenges has increased dramatically over the past decade. From a very local management a sense of global awareness has entered the current debate. As an example, last weeks multi billion financial support deal reached between the members of the European Union to help other members has been supported by countries from around the world, including China. 

This globalisation has developed very early related to economical activities, but has with the more recent sustainability discussion, the image from the moon and Buckminster Fuller, developed into a new paradigm for evaluation and decision making. Complexity has risen sharply of course and it has of been fuelled by the development and application of relevant technology.

This tie between global and local has especially for the cities become an essential aspect of management. The growth of urban population has since 2007  overtaken the countryside. In this sense the population growth is specifically relevant for the management, building and thinking of cities. 

The discrepancy between the scales from global to local more and more are become an lock in problem. The relevance  and presence of mobility between the scales is essential for the dynamic development of cities and the wider the gap the more difficult it becomes for elements to link in on any of the scales.

After all scales are an theoretical classification to grasp the complexity of cities. Many of the elements however, represent relevance on a number of different levels acting as links and at the same time can be a source of contradiction. 

Just as the individual child represents a successful new start for a family or a community even, it is stylised as an icon of the world population representing all and everyone. Where the individual destiny and everyday struggle stand against the permanence and duration of the race as such the scales are not relevant any longer. And this might be after all, a model for  dynamic conceptualisation of a scale independent description of presence also in the context of cities.  

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Recently large scale models have come back into fashion and researchers around the globe have started to develop different types of urban grows simulations spanning across urban areas, countries and even started looking at a global scale urban growth models.
Of course one of the precedences is the Bucky world model called the “World Game” or the world peace game. Of course this was based on a Dymaxion Map.

Image taken from genekeyes source: scanned by Gene Keyes from cover of
World Game Report, [28 p.], ©1969, Edwin Schlossberg
Photography by Daniel Gildesgame and Herbert Matter /

It was branded a game, but recently scientists have become much more bold and call it a model. They are also not shy of promises of what could be solved by such a large scale everything incorporating algorithm based predictions.

The main problem back then but even more so nowadays is the base data. With the flood of information we have now it is getting more difficult to manufacture a decent working dataset. And of course it would need to cover the past as well as the current state.

The data, as far as recorded would be available but most likely not in the format and resolution required. So to start a lot of foundation work is required and no one seems willing at them moment to invest in this fundamentally important piece of work. everyone whats to get on with the exciting bit of the prediction, that how one makes money.

Even more interesting to look at some of the few existing visualisations of the past urban growth globally. The New Town Institute has put together a flash based visualisation of world wide urban growth of the past 6000 years. This is quite a good starting point and interesting in it self. Have a look how urban areas evolved, declined and reinvented themselves. The database is also online available.

Visualisaion taken from newtowninstitute

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The beat as a driving force has been used on this blog already a number of times. It refers to a constant that imposes a rhythm on activities. There is the beat of the drums, the scheduled beat of trains, tubes and buses, the beat of events and shows or the beat of the shopping street with opening times and new trends. In all this we, as individuals are swirled around in a big buzz but still we have and keep our own bet. On to level of our personal body a number of elements beat in sync. There is the heartbeat, the blink of an eye and the breath that keep us going.
In the visualization breathingearth, this body functions are taken onto a global level. Not individually but collectively and in the form of births and deaths. By visualizing the starting beats of the births and the ending beats of the deaths, a global picture of how the earth beats individually might be drawn. How ever sad the death of an individual and how joyous the birth of a new life, the striking thing on this is how continuity emerges.
Animated as flashing dots the map visualizes births and death on the planet in “real time”. Every country on the map features with information on population, birth and death rates. In addition the amount of CO2 produced by country is displayed in black and red.
Get a feel for the beat – click on the image!
Image from breathingearth – click on image to see the animated visualization

Where does the data come from for this visualization? According to the producers, all data used on Breathing Earth is the latest available, as of December 2008. Birth and death rates: 2008 estimates, from the CIA World Factbook. Population data is based on July 2008 estimates from the CIA World Factbook. When Breathing Earth is started, it uses each country’s birth and death rates to calculate how much its population has changed since July 2008, and adjusts its population figure accordingly. To calculate the total world population, Breathing Earth adds up the population figures of all countries. It continues adjusting the various population figures as you watch it, each time a person is born or a person dies.
CO2 emission rates are 2004 figures from the United Nations Statistics Division.

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A visualization of world wide air traffic over a 24 hour period.
Amazing, how all these yellow dots swirl over the world map. The expected hotspots, the states and Europe as destinations show up. Although one would expect that we live in a 24 hour society especially regarding air traffic, the day night rhythm directs the number of flights. Flight activities pick up in the early morning hours ad dies out in the late night hours.
At the beginning one can observe how the flight traffic in the states slowly calms down and at the same time with the rise of the morning in Europe the number of flights picks up, enjoy!

The animation was produced to be shown on the high definition 3D-Globe “Orbitarium” in Technorama – The Swiss Science Center in collaboration with Institute of Applied Information Technology InIT, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur. The data used is from 2008.
There is plenty of versions of this animation another one on vimeo.

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