Library@Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom

Where Minds meet and Ideas pop up !

Board exam countdown: how to keep the blues away

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Study tips, lifestyle tips, checklist and more to handle the challenge.

As March 1 fast approaches, thousands of students who are appearing for the Board exams are likely to become increasingly anxious and get stressed out. “Have I prepared enough? Is there something I have missed? Should I focus more on that particular topic?” Your mind would be abuzz with several such thoughts. No matter how much you study and revise the subjects, the feeling of contentment is difficult to achieve. What can you do to steady your nerves and keep your cool? “The Board exams are like any other exam. The only difference is that they are held in another school. So there is no need for students to panic and they should stick to the normal routine they follow everyday,” says CBSE spokesperson Rama Sharma.

Study Tips

Having a preparation strategy is crucial. With merely half a month left for the exams, how can you utilise the time effectively? “Students should divide their time for each subject. They should prepare for the first paper last and for the last paper first,” says Surabhi Gautam, HOD of English, Mother’s Global School, Delhi, who teaches Class X and XI students. “Early morning hours are the best time for revision as retention is better and the body and mind are fresh,” she advises. Note-making is an effective method that can come to your rescue. “Students should prepare notes of the main points because at the last minute, revising the whole syllabus from the scratch is not possible. Notes make it easy for them to recall from memory quickly.”

Another tested method is solving previous years’ question papers and sample papers. “Students can simulate the exam at home. This will give them an idea of how much time they are taking to solve the paper. Based on the result, they can improve their speed and accuracy. The more sample papers they solve, the more confident they will become,” says Rama.

Parents have an important role in play in their child’s success as well. They should be supportive and encouraging and help students develop self-discipline, self-confidence and a sense of achievement. This will go a long way in boosting his/her morale.

Group study is a popular mode of studying. But is it always effective? “Though it can help in getting the doubts and concepts cleared, it does not help in retention. For the final revision, self-study is the best,” says Surabhi.

Lifestyle Tips

During exams, the stress levels of students generally go through the roof. This leads to excessive eating, sleeping difficulties and so on. How can one deal with it? “Students should keep a light diet. This will keep them fresh and not feel sleepy while studying. Breakfast can consist of light food such as porridge or cereals. Fruits and dry fruits are rich in essential vitamins and proteins and their intake should be increased. Whenever students feel hungry or a little bit lethargic, they should go for a diet of fruit such as guava, apple, banana and so on. Also, in case you get an urge to munch something, dry fruits can be kept handy,” says Surabhi.

Several students take the support of coffee or tea to stay fresh. However, this might not be conducive in the long run. “We do not recommend coffee or tea to students as caffeine should be avoided. However, green tea or lemon tea can be taken,” says Surabhi.

Counselling

To help students relieve their stress, the CBSE has started a helpline where school principals, teachers and trained counsellors have volunteered to guide the students. Students from any Board can connect with them and seek counselling. The toll-free helpline number is 1800118004 and is operational from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

This year 76 principals, trained counsellors from CBSE-affiliated government and private schools and a few psychologists will address exam-related psychological problems of the students. For online counselling, students can drop a mail at counselling.cecbse@gmail.com and sugandh.cbse@gmail.com.

Checklist

On the day of the exam, it is essential that you stay calm and focused. It is natural to get butterflies in the stomach. To ensure that you don’t miss anything, prepare a checklist. Before leaving your house, ensure that you have the following items: Water bottle, extra pens, ruler, pencil, eraser, sharpener, watch and the hall ticket. Here’s a checklist of things you should do while writing the exam:

  • There is a cool off period of 15 minutes in the beginning which excludes the time you get for writing the exam. Utilise this time for reading the question paper carefully.
  • Although advisable, it is not necessary to answer the questions in same sequence/order. Attempt the ones you know first, but number them correctly.
  • If you’re running out of time, write the answer in points rather than leaving the question.
  • Label the diagrams properly.

Resource box

  • For updates: cbse.nic.in
  • For academic resources: http://cbseacademic.in
  • Online counselling: counselling.cecbse@gmail.com and sugandh.cbse@gmail.com
  • Toll free helpline (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.): 1800 11 8004

In the end, remember that though scoring well in this exam is important, it’s not the end of the world if you are not able to achieve the marks you expected. There are endless opportunities waiting for you.

Keywords: board exam tips, exam preparation tips, board exam counselling, state board exams, CBSE board exams, exam checklist

Courtesy: http://www.thehindu.com/

Filed under: Article of the Week,

Classroom Management Tricks: Timers and a tool to control noise

Classroom Management Tricks: Timers and a tool to control noise | Cool Tools

via Classroom Management Tricks: Timers and a tool to control noise | Cool Tools – The Digital Shift.

 

Filed under: Article of the Week,

S L Faizal’s Experiments with Reading Innovations in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pattom

Posted on April 14, 2014 by hippocampusschoolservices

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It’s not every day that you come across someone like S L Faizal, a librarian who thrives on reading innovations in the school library. From launching the first library blog in India, to promoting information literacy through fun campaigns such as Face-a-book, this librarian’s initiatives deserve to be in the spotlight. Find out more about his experiments with promoting reading in Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom, Trivandrum.

The tagline of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom library where S L Faizal works is: Where minds meet and ideas pop up. Clearly, Faizal doesn’t take this tagline lightly. Enthusiastic about discovering new possibilities to help the library evolve, Faizal’s always looking for effective ways to motivate children to read more. Although Faizal has plenty of pet projects, we have decided to highlight three of his most promising library initiatives.

Face-a-book

The concept was developed from the realization that almost all students between the ages of 11 and 17 are connected on social networks like Facebook, and spend less time reading physical books. So they were told this: If you are bored with Facebook, come to your Library and face a book, a real one. Face-a-book – an encounter with a real book – was started in 2012 as a collaborative project between the library staff and students. Thus emerged www.faceabook.info where children could post their thoughts after reading books borrowed from the library. Born out of this initiative was another reading program called Book Ambassadors. As a part of this, 50 students were selected to closely read a book each. Each of them then became the ambassador for the book that they had read (e.g., Ambassador of Harry Potter). These ambassadors were expected to face all queries specific to the book that they were representing. They were also honoured with badges and certificates.

Library Junction

Library Junction (www.libraryjunction.net) was launched in 2010 as an online Academic Social Network with all the features of a popular social network. The targeted users were the net-generation students. Designed as an online collaborative learning platform, members could ask questions, express views, hold discussions, share information, work on projects together, communicate with others and get to know the world better. The project team consisted of more than 1000 students (between the ages of 6 and 17) and 10 teachers from different subject backgrounds. The project won NCERT’s Best Innovative Project for Schools Award in 2011 and KVS Innovations and Experiments Award in 2010.

The prime objectives of this project were:

  • to create an easily accessible and user-friendly online learning platform which connects the library, teachers and students
  • to support student-teacher collaborative learning practices
  • to facilitate information sharing and knowledge creation
  • to cultivate reading habit and inspire love towards books, reading and libraries
  • to develop information and media literacy skills
  • to encourage critical thinking, innovation and creativity
  • to reach out to new-generation library users at their own space and time
  • to make learning more enjoyable

Library-Social Connect (LSC)

LSC is a social responsibility initiative by Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom to connect students to society through books and reading. The project was kick-started in 2013 through a campaign called ‘Gift a Book and Get a Friend’.This was aimed at providing students with better opportunities to find out more about their community – other learning systems in particular – and to make friends through books. Students of the school’s Readers’ Club collected more than 550 books and gifted it to children from underprivileged backgrounds studying in Govt.U.P.S.,Palkulangara. In the spirit of friendship, students from both schools presented cultural programs together, participated in fun activities, told stories, and shared their food. The support and response from students was overwhelming. Visit http://librarysocialconnect.wordpress.com for more details.

Courtesy: http://hippocampusschoolservices.com/2014/04/14/s-l-faizals-experiments-with-reading-innovations-in-kendriya-vidyalaya-pattom/:

Filed under: Article of the Week, In conversation, Library in the News

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day 2014

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The history of the written word is the history of humanity.

The power of books to advance individual fulfillment and to create social change is unequaled. Intimate and yet deeply social, books provide far-reaching forms of dialogue between individuals, within communities and across time.

As Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for attending classes, said in her speech at the United Nations:

Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons.

On World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO invites all women and men to rally around books and all those who write and produce books. This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance.

Books are not immune from a world of change, embodied in the advent of digital formats and the transition to open licensing for knowledge-sharing.

This means more uncertainty but also new opportunity — including for innovative business models in the world of publishing. Change is raising sharp questions about the definition of the book and the meaning of authorship in the digital era. UNESCO is leading from the front in the new debates about the dematerialization of books and the rights of authors.

By championing copyright and open access, UNESCO stands up for creativity, diversity and equal access to knowledge. We work across the board – from the Creative Cities of Literature network to promoting literacy and mobile learning and advancing Open Access to scientific knowledge and educational resources. For instance, in partnership with Nokia and Worldreader, UNESCO is striving to harness mobile technology to support literacy. To this end, on 23 April, we will release a new publication: Reading in the Mobile Era.

In the same spirit, Port Harcourt in Nigeria has been named as the 2014 World Book Capital, on account of the quality of its programme, in particular its focus on youth and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria’s culture of books, reading, writing and publishing to improve literacy rates. Taking effect on World Book and Copyright Day, this initiative is supported by UNESCO, along with the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

In all of this, our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.

 Courtesy: http://www.unesco.org/new/wbcd

 

Filed under: Article of the Week,

KVS Golden Jubilee celebrations begins

new kvs logo

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today inaugurated the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, he said that the present government has invested heavily to promote access and quality in education. He said the Right to Education enacted by his government ensures that every child has the Right to eight years of education. The Mid Day Meal programme has assured over 10 crore children are provided meals which has helped in retention on the kids in schools. Focusing on some of the shortcomings in the present education system, the prime Minister said that the standard of teaching needs to be improved and the problems of high drop out among the school children needs to be tackled. Lauding the role of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Dr. Manmohan Singh said these institutions can help in setting standards in school education in the country. He said about 11 lakh students are studying in about eleven thousand Kendriya Vidyalayas which are providing quality education by using latest information technology and teaching of foreign languages as a subject. He also appreciated the role of KVs in catering to the need of Armed forces whose members were frequently transferred.
Speaking on the occasion the HRD Dr. M.M.Pallam Raju said KVS has adopted technology in a big way in order to bring substantial changes in the class-rooms through ICT enabled facilities. Most of the KVs have their own website, have internet facilities and computer labs, the computer-pupil ratio is one teacher for twenty one students. With the introduction of ICT enabled class-rooms, use of ICT is being made in the class-room which is expected to lead to significant improvement in the teaching-learning process.
Dr. Raju said Ministry has nominated KVS as the Model School Organization for the 2500 Model Schools to be set up under the PPP mode.

Courtesy: Press Information Bureau, Govt of India
RNM/RS
(Release ID :92057)

Filed under: Article of the Week, , ,

The 33 Digital Skills Every 21st Century Teacher should Have

Every single teacher is concerned about his/ her teaching practices and the skills involved in this process. How many times have you wondered about a better way to teach the same lesson you have delivered to an eariler class? How often have you used technology to engage your students and improve their learning ? These are some recurring questions we keep regurgitating each time our teaching skills are put to the test.

It is amazing how technology has changed the whole world giving rise to new forms of education we never thought of. Our students are more digitally focused than any time before. They spend more time interacting with their mobile devices than they do with their parents or close relatives. Admittedly, this digital boom has both  positive and negative impact on our students. Lack of concentration, short attention span, distraction, visual  stimulus overload, identity theft, lack of real world socializing, privacy issues, depression, and many more are but a direct result of the growing exposure to this technology. Studies have even proved that multitasking, which some educational technology experts brag about in relation to the use of today’s technology, reduces the power of our concentration to the half.  We should not, However, only look at the empty side of the cup, the other side is way bigger.
There are  actually several pluses for the use of technology in education and to try and list them  all here is way beyond the scope of this short post. Generally speaking,  no two argue over the fact that technology advantages in education ( and in our life at large ) way  outnumber  its downsides. It is thanks to technology that you are now reading this post and will probably share it with your colleagues.

digital skills for 21st century teachers

There is no blinking the fact  that the type of students we teach today are completely different from last century’s. We , definitely, need to look at some of the skills we, as teachers, need to equip ourselves with to better live up to the challenge. Among all the challenges we would have in education, there is not as daunting a challenge as catching students focus and getting them engaged in the learning process. For this particular reason, and in addition to the skills I initially mentioned in 21st Century Teaching Skills article, I would like to provide you  with another list of  some equally important digital skills that you, as a teacher, need to seriously consider if you want to pave the way for the 21st century teaching. I have added a list of web tools under each skill for teachers to better exploit it.
Please, remember that I have spent many laborious hours working on  this post and all I ask is a credit back to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning when re-using this content somewhere else.

digital skills for 21st century teachers

The 21st century teacher should be able to :
1- Create and edit  digital audio
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
Free Audio Tools for Teachers

2- Use Social bookmarking to share resources with and between learners
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
A List of Best Bookmarking Websites for Teachers

3- Use blogs and wikis to create online platforms for students
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
Great Tools to Create Protected Blogs and Webpages for your Class

4- Exploit digital images for classroom use
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

5- Use video content to engage students
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

6- Use infographics to visually stimulate students
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

7- Use Social networking sites to connect with colleagues and grow professionally
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

8- Create and deliver asynchronous presentations and training sessions
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
A List of The Best Presentation Tools for Teachers

9- Compile a digital e-portfolio for their own development
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
Free Tools to Create Digital Portfolios

10- Have a knowledge about online security
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

11- be able to detect plagiarized works in students assignments
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
Free Plagiarism Detector Tools fr Teachers and Educators

12- Create screen capture videos and tutorials
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
Five Great Screen Capture Tools for Teachers

13- Curate web content for classroom learning
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
10 Must have Bookmarklets for Teachers

14- Use and provide students with task management tools to organize their work and plan their learning
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
A List of Great Task Management Tools for Educators

15- Use polling software to create a real-time survey in class

Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
15 Free and Easy Poll/ Survey Tools for Teachers
16- Understand issues related to copyright and fair use of online materials
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

17- Exploit  computer games for pedagogical purposes
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

18- Use digital assessment tools to create quizzes
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
Free Tools to Create and Administer Quizzes

19- Use of collaborative tools for text construction and editing
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
A List of Great Free Collaborative Tools for Educators

20- Find and evaluate authentic web based content
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
The Three Effective Ways Teachers Should Know about

21- Use of mobile devices like tablets
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

22- Identify online resources that are safe for students browsing
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
A List of Awesome Kids-safe Websites

23- Use digital tools for time management purposes
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

24- Learn about the different ways to use YouTube in your classroom
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

25- Use note taking tools to share interesting content with your students
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

26- Annotate web pages and highlight parts of text to share with your class
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
13 Free Web Annotation Tools for Teachers to Draw, Add notes, and highlight interesting parts in webpages

27- Use of online graphic organizers and printables
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
A List of Free Graphic Organizers for Educators

28- Use of online sticky notes to capture interesting ideas
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
13 Free Sticky Notes Tools for Teachers and Students

29- Use of screen casting tools to create and share tutorials
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
A List of The Best Free Screen Casting Tools for Teachers to Record and Share Tutorials

30- Exploit group text messaging tools for collaborative project work
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
9 Free Group Text Messaging for Educators

31- Conduct an effective search query with the minimum time possible
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :
The Entire Google Search Guide for Teachers

32- Conduct A Research Paper Using Digital Tools
Here are some tools for teachers to develop this skill :

33- Use file sharing tools to share docs and files with students online
A List of The Best File Sharing Tools for Teachers

 

Courtesy: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/33-digital-skills-every-21st-century.html?m=0

Filed under: Article of the Week,

Teach the Books, Touch the Heart

imageDomitille Collardey

FRANZ KAFKA wrote that “a book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.” I once shared this quotation with a class of seventh graders, and it didn’t seem to require any explanation.

We’d just finished John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” When we read the end together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I. “Are you crying?” one girl asked, as she crept out of her chair to get a closer look. “I am,” I told her, “and the funny thing is I’ve read it many times.”

But they understood. When George shoots Lennie, the tragedy is that we realize it was always going to happen. In my 14 years of teaching in a New York City public middle school, I’ve taught kids with incarcerated parents, abusive parents, neglectful parents; kids who are parents themselves; kids who are homeless or who live in crowded apartments in violent neighborhoods; kids who grew up in developing countries. They understand, more than I ever will, the novel’s terrible logic — the giving way of dreams to fate.

For the last seven years, I have worked as a reading enrichment teacher, reading classic works of literature with small groups of students from grades six to eight. I originally proposed this idea to my principal after learning that a former stellar student of mine had transferred out of a selective high school — one that often attracts the literary-minded offspring of Manhattan’s elite — into a less competitive setting. The daughter of immigrants, with a father in jail, she perhaps felt uncomfortable with her new classmates. I thought additional “cultural capital” could help students like her fare better in high school, where they would inevitably encounter, perhaps for the first time, peers who came from homes lined with bookshelves, whose parents had earned not G.E.D.’s but Ph.D.’s.

Along with “Of Mice and Men,” my groups read: “Sounder,” “The Red Pony,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Macbeth.” The students didn’t always read from the expected perspective. Holden Caulfield was a punk, unfairly dismissive of parents who had given him every advantage. About “The Red Pony,” one student said, “it’s about being a dude, it’s about dudeness.” I had never before seen the parallels between Scarface and Macbeth, nor had I heard Lady Macbeth’s soliloquies read as raps, but both made sense; the interpretations were playful, but serious. Once introduced to Steinbeck’s writing, one boy went on to read “The Grapes of Wrath” and told me repeatedly how amazing it was that “all these people hate each other, and they’re all white.” His historical perspective was broadening, his sense of his own country deepening. Year after year, ex-students visited and told me how prepared they had felt in their freshman year as a result of the classes.

And yet I do not know how to measure those results. As student test scores have become the dominant means of evaluating schools, I have been asked to calculate my reading enrichment program’s impact on those scores. I found that some students made gains of over 100 points on the statewide English Language Arts test, while other students in the same group had flat or negative results. In other words, my students’ test scores did not reliably indicate that reading classic literature added value.

Until recently, given the students’ enthusiasm for the reading groups, I was able to play down that data. But last year, for the first time since I can remember, our test scores declined in relation to comparable schools in the city. Because I play a leadership role in the English department, I felt increased pressure to bring this year’s scores up. All the teachers are increasing their number of test-preparation sessions and practice tests, so I have done the same, cutting two of my three classic book groups and replacing them with a test-preparation tutorial program. Only the highest-performing eighth graders were able to keep taking the reading classes.

Since beginning this new program in September, I have answered over 600 multiple-choice questions. In doing so, I encountered exactly one piece of literature: Frost’s “Road Not Taken.” The rest of the reading-comprehension materials included passages from watered-down news articles or biographies, bastardized novels, memos or brochures — passages chosen not for emotional punch but for textual complexity.

I MAY not be able to prove that my literature class makes a difference in my students’ test results, but there is a positive correlation between how much time students spend reading and higher scores. The problem is that low-income students, who begin school with a less-developed vocabulary and are less able to comprehend complex sentences than their more privileged peers, are also less likely to read at home. Many will read only during class time, with a teacher supporting their effort. But those are the same students who are more likely to lose out on literary reading in class in favor of extra test prep. By “using data to inform instruction,” as the Department of Education insists we do, we are sorting lower-achieving students into classes that provide less cultural capital than their already more successful peers receive in their more literary classes and depriving students who viscerally understand the violence and despair in Steinbeck’s novels of the opportunity to read them.

It is ironic, then, that English Language Arts exams are designed for “cultural neutrality.” This is supposed to give students a level playing field on the exams, but what it does is bleed our English classes dry. We are trying to teach students to read increasingly complex texts, but they are complex only on the sentence level — not because the ideas they present are complex, not because they are symbolic, allusive or ambiguous. These are literary qualities, and they are more or less absent from testing materials.

Of course no teacher disputes the necessity of being able to read for information. But if literature has no place in these tests, and if preparation for the tests becomes the sole goal of education, then the reading of literature will go out of fashion in our schools. I don’t have any illusions that adding literary passages to multiple-choice tests would instill a love of reading among students by itself. But it would keep those books on the syllabus, in the classrooms and in the hands of young readers — which is what really matters.

Better yet, we should abandon altogether the multiple-choice tests, which are in vogue not because they are an effective tool for judging teachers or students but because they are an efficient means of producing data. Instead, we should move toward extensive written exams, in which students could grapple with literary passages and books they have read in class, along with assessments of students’ reports and projects from throughout the year. This kind of system would be less objective and probably more time-consuming for administrators, but it would also free teachers from endless test preparation and let students focus on real learning.

We cannot enrich the minds of our students by testing them on texts that purposely ignore their hearts. By doing so, we are withholding from our neediest students any reason to read at all. We are teaching them that words do not dazzle but confound. We may succeed in raising test scores by relying on these methods, but we will fail to teach them that reading can be transformative and that it belongs to them.

By

By CLAIRE NEEDELL HOLLANDER
Published: April 20, 2012

Courtesy: New York Times, Sunday Review

Filed under: Article of the Week,

Future Libraries and 17 Forms of Information Replacing Books

Question: As physical books go away, and computers and smart devices take their place, at what point does a library stop being a library, and start becoming something else?

Somewhere in the middle of this question lies the nagging fear and anxiety that we see brimming to the top among library insiders.

People who think libraries are going away simply because books are going digital are missing the true tectonic shifts taking place in the world of information.

Libraries are not about books. In fact, they were never about books.

Libraries exist to give us access to information. Until recently, books were one of the more efficient forms of transferring information from one person to another. Today there are 17 basic forms of information that are taking the place of books, and in the future there will be many more…

Gas Station Map

Gas Station Maps

As a young child, I was enamored with the free maps I could pick up at gas stations. Over time I had collected maps for nearly every state and some of the Canadian Provinces.

Along with the early days of the automobile and a generally confusing road system came the need for maps. Oil companies quickly realized that people who knew where they were going often traveled more, and consequently bought more gasoline.

Over time, anyone driving a car soon came to expect free maps whenever they stopped for gas, and companies like Rand McNally, H.M. Gousha, and General Drafting turned out millions to meet demand.

In the early 1970s, when I was first learning the freedom of owning a car, I couldn’t imagine a time when these maps would not be an integral part of my life.

Today, as GPS and smartphones give us turn-by-turn instructions on where to go, printed road maps exist as little more than collectibles for people wishing to preserve their memories of a fading era.

Are printed books likely to go through a similar dwindling of popularity?

relationship with data 755

Our Relationship with Information is Changing

As the form and delivery system for accessing information changes, our relationship with information also begins to morph.

If we treat this like other types relationships, we can begin to see where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

Gone are the days when we were simply “flirting” with our data, occasionally glancing at it, hoping it would pay attention to us as well.

In school we had more of a “dating” relationship, lugging books around, hoping they would impart their knowledge even though the parts that got read were few and far between. Much like dating a popular person, we became known by the books under our arms.

Once we started working, we became “married” to a relatively small universe of information that surrounded our job, company, and industry. People who became immersed in their particular universe became recognized as experts and quickly rose to the top.

Today we are beginning to have “affairs” with other exotic forms of information such as social networks and video chatting. All of these new forms of information seem much more alive and vibrant than the book world we had been married to for the past century.

Alone, on some dusty shelf, lie the books we had once been married to. On some level, many of us feel like we were cheating by abandoning our past, never getting closure for a divorce that left us with mixed loyalties haunting us on both a conscious and subconscious level.

If you think this is a crazy analogy, many will argue that its not. If anything, information is the heart and soul of our emotional self. Even though we may not feel it touching us like a finger pressing on our arm, a great piece of literature has a way of caressing our mind, adding fire to our inner rage, sending chills down the length of our spine, and giving us a euphoric high as we join our hero to reach a climactic conclusion.

Books of the past remain the physical manifestation of this kind of experience, and without their presence, a part of us feels lost.

Kindle e-book.The slimline Kindle?s electronic ink screen is de

Replacing Books

The transition to other forms of information has been happening for decades. Once we are able to get past the emotion connection we have to physical books, we begin to see how the information world is splintering off into dozens of different categories.

Here is a list of 17 primary categories of information that people turn to on a daily basis. While they are not direct replacements for physical books, they all have a way of eroding our reliance on them. There may be more that I’ve missed, but as you think through the following media channels, you’ll begin to understand how libraries of the future will need to function:

  1. Games – 135 million Americans play video games an hour or more each month. In the U.S. 190 million households will use a next-generation video game console in 2012, of which 148 million will be connected to the Internet. The average gamer is 35 years old and they have been playing games on average for 13 years.
  2. Digital Books – In January, USA Today reported a post-holiday e-book “surge,” with 32 of the top 50 titles on its most recent list selling more copies in digital format than in print. Self-published e-books now represent 20-27% of digital book sales.
  3. Audio Books – Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the publishing industry. There is currently a shortage of audiobooks worldwide as publishers race to meet demand. Only 0.75% (not even 1%!) of Amazon’s book catalog has so far been converted to audio. Last year more than $1 billion worth of audiobooks were sold in the U.S. alone. Over 5,000 public libraries now offer free downloadable audio books.
  4. Newspapers – Online readership of newspapers continues to grow, attracting more than 113 million readers in January 2012. Industry advertising revenues, however, continue to drop and are now at the same level as they were in 1950, when adjusted for inflation.
  5. Magazines – The U.S. magazine industry is comprised of 5,146 businesses publishing a total of 38,000 titles. Time spent reading newspapers or magazines combined is roughly 3.9 hours per week. Nearly half of all magazine consumption takes place with the TV on. The magazine industry is declined 3.5% last year.
  6. Music – According to Billboard’s “2011 Music Industry Report,” consumers bought 1.27 billion digital tracks last year, which accounted for 50.3% of all music sales. Digital track sales increased 8.5% in 2011. Meanwhile, physical sales declined 5%. According to Apple, there are an estimated 38 million songs in the known music universe.
  7. Photos – Over 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day
  8. Videos – Cisco estimates that over 90% of all Internet content will be video by 2015. Over 100,000 ‘years’ of Youtube video are viewed on Facebook every year. Over 350 million Youtube videos are shared on Twitter every year. Netflix streams 2 billion videos per quarter.
  9. Television – According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day, and owns 2.2 televisions. An estimated 41% of our information currently comes from television.
  10. Movies – There are currently over 39,500 movie screens in the U.S. with over 4,500 of them converted to 3D screens. The average American goes to 6 movies per year. However, almost one-third of U.S. broadband Households use the Internet to watch movies on their TV sets, according to Park Associates. That number is growing, with 4% of U.S. households buying a video media receiver, such as Apple TV and Roku, over the 2011 holiday season
  11. Radio – Satellite radio subscribers, currently at 20 million, is projected to reach 35 million by 2020. At the same time, Internet radio is projected to reach 196 million listeners by 2020. These combined equal the same number as terrestrial radio listeners.
  12. Blogs – There are currently over 70 million WordPress blogs and 39 million Tumblr blogs worldwide.
  13. Podcasts – According to Edison Research, an estimated 70 million Americans have listened to a podcast. The podcast audience has migrated from being predominantly “early adopters” to more closely resembling mainstream media consumers.
  14. Apps – There are now over 1.2 million smartphone apps with over 35 billion downloads. Sometime this year the number of apps will exceed the number of books in print – 3.2 million.
  15. Presentations – Leading the charge in this area, SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. With 60 million monthly visitors and 130 million pageviews, it is amongst the most visited 200 websites in the world.
  16. Courseware – The OpenCourseware movement has been catching fire with Apple leading the charge. iTunesU currently has over 1,000 Universities participating from 26 countries. Their selection of classes, now exceeding the 500,000 mark, have had over 700 million downloads. They recently announced they were expanding into the K-12 market.
  17. Personal Networks – Whether its LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest, people are becoming increasingly reliant on their personal network for information. There are now over 2.8 billion social media profiles, representing around half of all Internet users worldwide. LinkedIn now has over 147 million members. Facebook has over 1.1 billion members and accounts for 20% of all pageviews on the Internet. Google+ currently has over 90 million users.

Each of these forms of information has a place in future libraries. Whether or not physical books decline or even disappear has little relevance in the overall scheme of future library operations.

Steve Jobs introducing iCloud 673

Steve Jobs introducing iCloud

The Coming Era of the Library Cloud

In June 2011, Steve Jobs made his final public appearance at a software developer’s conference to unveil iCloud; a service that many believe will become his greatest legacy.

As Jobs envisioned it, the entire universe of songs, books, movies, and a variety of other information products would reside in iCloud and could be “pulled down” whenever someone needed to access it.

People would initially purchase the product through iTunes, and Apple would keep a copy of it in iCloud. So each subsequent purchase by other Apple users would be a quick download directly from iCloud.

Whether or not the information universe develops in the cloud like Jobs has envisioned, libraries will each need to develop their own cloud strategy for the future.

As an example, at a recent library event I was speaking at, one librarian mentioned she had just ordered 50 Kindles and 50 Nooks for their library. At the time, she was dealing with the restrictions from publishers that only allowed them to load each digital book on 10 devices. So which devices get the content in the end?

Over time, it’s easy to imagine a library with 350 Kindles, 400 iPads, 250 Nooks, 150 Xooms, and a variety of other devices. Keeping track of which content is loaded on each device will become a logistical nightmare. However, having each piece of digital content loaded in the cloud and restricting it to 10 simultaneous downloads will be far more manageable.

car-and-drugstore2

This snapshot in time could have been preserved by your local library.

The Value of the Community Archive

What was your community like in 1950, or for that matter in 1850 or even 1650? What role did your community play during the Civil War? How active was it during the Presidential elections of 1960? How did local people react to the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

We have access to plenty of history books that give us the “official story” of all the major events throughout history. But understanding the intersection of our city, our village, or our community with these earth-changing events has, for the most part, never been captured or preserved. In the future, this will become one of the most valuable functions provided by a community library.

Libraries have always had a mandate to archive the records of their service area, but it has rarely been pursued with more than passing enthusiasm. Archives of city council meetings and local history books made the cut, but few considered the library to be a good photo or video archive.

Over time, many of the newspapers, radio, and television stations will begin to disappear. As these businesses lose their viability, their storerooms of historical broadcast tapes and documents will need to be preserved. More specifically, every radio broadcast, newspaper, and television broadcast will need to be digitized and archived.

With the advent of iCloud and other similar services libraries will want to expand their hosting of original collections, and installing the equipment to digitize the information. The sale of this information to the outside world through an iTunes-like service could become a valuable income stream for libraries in the future.

Final Thoughts

Libraries, much like any living breathing organism, will have to adapt to the complex nature of the ever-changing world of information. As information becomes more sophisticated and complex, so will libraries.

Libraries are here to stay because they have a survival instinct. They have created a mutually dependent relationship with the communities they serve, and most importantly, they know how to adapt to the changing world around them.

I am always impressed with the creative things being done in libraries. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” There are a lot of beautiful dreams taking place that will help form tomorrow’s libraries.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

Courtesy: http://www.futuristspeaker.com

Filed under: Article of the Week,

Why 2012 is starting to look like 1984

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Between SOPA, NDAA, telecommunications surveillance, and people’s willingness to share endlessly via social networking, will 2012 mark the year consumers irreversibly surrender their privacy and freedoms?

A mantra of the Internet age, articulated in 1984 by WELL founder Stewart Brand, is that “information wants to be free.” Back then — the days of 360K floppies and 1200 baud modems — Brand was referring to digital technology making information ever easier to distribute, copy, and remix than their old-school analog counterparts. The oft-forgotten corollary Brand offered at the same time was “Information also wants to be expensive,” because particular items, while perhaps of no interest to one person, can be “immeasurably valuable” to someone else.

As we head into 2012, the conflict Brand articulated between information’s “want” to be both free and expensive is taking on new dimensions. So-called “digital content” like books, music, and television is increasingly falling into the expensive category, thanks to online stores, digital distribution, copyright, and DRM. Meanwhile, information about ourselves — like our location, habits, activities, possessions, transactions, preferences, and personal information — is increasingly becoming “free,” often accessible to advertisers, corporations, and governments without our explicit consent. Or, in many cases, proffered up willingly in exchange for things like coupons.

As we enter 2012, the tension between “free” and “expensive” information is becoming more charged than ever. What could 2012 bring… and will it end up resembling Orwell’s 1984? Here are a few of the threats on the horizon.

SOPA-Internet-censorship-shutterstock
Stop Online Piracy Act

The Stop Online Piracy Act and its companion piece, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) are bills currently being crafted by U.S. Congress aiming to expand the capabilities of U.S. law enforcement agencies to combat copyright and intellectual property infringement — piracy. The proposed legislation is aimed at both the piracy of digital goods (books, movies, television shows, games, and things like live broadcasts), but also the use of the Internet and online marketplaces to traffic in physical counterfeit goods. That means pirated DVDs, Blu-rays, and CDs, but also fake drugs, fashion and accessories, electronics, antiques, collectibles, and many more items.

At a basic level, most people accept that piracy and counterfeiting are bad. It’s theft, and theft is rarely justifiable. So, on the surface, the notions behind SOPA don’t seem that onerous. The devil is, of course, in the details — or lack of details, given the very broad language in SOPA as it exists today. As originally proposed, SOPA would enable copyright holders to seek court orders against Web sites they believe are infringing on copyrights or either enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on one’s definitions, merely linking to a site that contained allegedly infringing content could be construed as “facilitating” infringement, so copyright holders could demand the site or account with that link be taken down.

In a worst-case scenario, Internet users who share a link to a cool video with their friends might find their social networking accounts suspended for “facilitating” alleged copyright infringement. Similarly, journalists writing about piracy could find their sites or publications suspended. And if a legitimate site or account were to get hijacked, transferred, or sold (because that never happens, right?) anyone who linked to or did business with once-legitimate content or sites might suddenly find themselves in violation of the law.

Under SOPA, a court could require ISPs to take down sites accused of infringement, order search engines to drop the sites from their listings, or bar online advertising and payment services (like AdSense or PayPal) from doing business with the site. The goal of those measures is ostensibly to shut down online marketplaces for pirated and counterfeit goods: Get them offline, and shut off access to their sources of online revenue. Although the bill provides for penalties against copyright holders who knowingly make false accusations of infringement (emphasis mine), the bill also grants immunity to ISPs who proactively take down accused sites. In other words, there’s no penalty to ISPs who take down sites because they’re accused of infringement, even if those claims are false. That’s a significant weakening of “safe harbor” provisions created by 1998′s still-controversial Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA). Similarly, the process of requesting or obtaining a court order over alleged infringement would largely take place outside the public eye, likely with the owners of the accused site unaware action was being taken against it. If the order were granted, one morning a site or service operator could wake up and find their site gone. Site owners can file a counter-claim if they’re barred from ad or payment services, but the counter-claim would have no force.

That’s not the full course of SOPA. It also has broad implications for cybersecurity and DNSSEC, a new security layer for DNS. However, provisions like the ones outlined above obviously have tremendous implications for search engines and services that host user-generated content — think Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and the like, but also for personal sites, blogs, small businesses, and (really) any person, organization, or business with a website. Under SOPA, merely linking to other sites could become a dangerous proposition, lest the site at the other end of the link be accused of copyright infringement.

Opponents of SOPA argue these provisions would fundamentally break the Internet and stifle innovation, and could lead to many sites and services migrating their infrastructure out of the U.S. to escape potential liability. Further, it seems unlikely SOPA’s provisions would do much to combat online piracy and trafficking in counterfeit goods, since site operators are already adept at moving to new hosting services in the space of a few hours: Even SOPA’s proposed streamlining of takedowns would still move at glacial speeds compared to the Internet world.

Proponents of the legislation argue SOPA’s provisions would protect revenues of content creators that would otherwise be lost and, hence, preserve jobs — an important buzzword in today’s political and economic climate. Supporters also note SOPA is not intended to go after single instances of links on blogs, social networking feeds, or other sites; rather, the bill is meant to offer law enforcement and rights holders tools to go after bigger fish, like substantial piracy and counterfeiting operations. However, the language of the bill as it stands today contains no such limits, implicitly relying on barriers to entry (court costs, attorneys’ fees, documentation, etc.) to curb potential abuses.

godaddy-sopa

SOPA (and PIPA) are not law. Both bills are proposed legislation that has yet to make it out of committee for votes before the House and Senate, let alone be signed by the president. Nonetheless, the proposed legislation has drawn a wealth of criticism, with domain registrar GoDaddy bearing the brunt of anti-SOPA sentiment by first endorsing the bill, then retracting its support. A handful of gaming companies have also apparently withdrawn their explicit support, although it’s not clear whether that’s a genuine reassessment of their stance or merely a PR move in the wake of the GoDaddy fracas. Many other top-line Internet companies—Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay, Wikimedia Foundation — oppose SOPA, as do the EFF, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU.

The bottom line is that if legislation like SOPA and PIPA become law, the way the Internet works for most Americans could change substantially. Much of the information we understand to be “free” today, even to the level of tweets and status updates, could suddenly come with enormous consequences. The weight of those consequences will tend to suppress Internet users’ willingness to speak, communicate, link, and share — and that’s why opponents say SOPA will “break” the Internet.

National Defense Authorization Act

SOPA is not yet law, but the most recent National Defense Authorization Act is. The NDAA is an annual bill passed by the U.S. Congress authorizing the budget of the U.S. Defense Department. It’s always a bit of a political hot potato because few presidents can justify failing authorizing revenue for the Defense Department, particularly when tens of thousands of U.S. troops are overseas serving in extended conflicts. Since the President does not have a line-item veto, lawmakers try to attach all sorts of things to the NDAA, knowing the President will almost certainly have to sign them all through into law.

This year, the NDAA contains a doozy: It enables the U.S. military to conduct anti-terrorist operations on U.S. soil, and authorizes indefinite detention of terror suspects, including U.S. citizens, without trial. The law is not entirely clear whether the military can indefinitely detain U.S. citizens domestically, but it can certainly do so overseas, and foreigners can be detained whether overseas or within U.S. borders.

In signing this year’s NDAA, President Obama included a signing statement attempting to clarify his position on the law. “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

In essence, this year’s NDAA expands on provisions granted into the Patriot Act and extends the military’s role in domestic law enforcement. Now, the U.S. military can detain anyone, anywhere in the world, without trial or process, simply because they’re suspected of terrorist activities.

lulzsec arrested

This may not seem to have anything to do with the Internet — until you think about groups like Anonymous and Wikileaks. Could Anonymous (or groups within Anonymous) attacking credit card operators, the threatening the NYSE, law enforcement organizations, or other organizations constitute terrorist activity? Similarly, would Wikileaks’ publication of classified U.S. diplomatic cables constitute terrorist activity? Suddenly, everyday Internet users speaking up in support of groups like Anonymous and Wikileaks might find themselves accused of aiding and facilitating terrorists. Similarly, if U.S. authorities decide these or similar groups’ activities constitute terrorism, members or alleged members might find themselves shipped to Guantanamo. No trial, no process, no appeal.

The Obama administration says it does not intend to exercise these powers. Even if that’s true, now that they’re law the only way they can be undone is with additional legislation that repeals the provisions, or through a court challenge, which would almost certainly ensure if the powers were ever utilized. But just because the Obama administration says it won’t use the powers doesn’t mean future administrations won’t. And let’s not forget that, at least in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Obama administration concluded it has the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without trail. (The American-born al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen by a targeted U.S. drone strike in September 2011.)

The bottom line here is that it doesn’t matter whether the U.S. government ever exercises the powers granted under this year’s NDAA: the very fact they exist suppresses American civil liberties by explicitly authorizing the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial, anywhere in the world. For folks who hold unpopular views, or merely know people who do, that’s a sobering thing to consider.

Telecom Immunity

Confused yet? Things get weirder. Late last month a U.S. Court of Appeals panel upheld the constitutionality of a law that makes telecommunications operators immune to lawsuits for assisting the federal government’s surveillance of American citizens. In other words, if your cell phone, telephone, or Internet provider turns over information about you, your activities, and use of their services over to the Federal government — even illegally — you’d have no grounds to sue. Communications companies face no sanctions for disclosing personal information to the federal government, including account information and even usage data like sites visited, account names, and location data.

When can the federal government require communications companies to hand over customer information? Essentially, anytime it likes: As part of anti-terrorist measures enacted by the Bush administration, the federal government has been engaging in warrantless wiretapping of individuals it has reason to believe may be connected to terrorist activities. Although originally revealed back in late 2005, the practice was sustained by the Bush administration and continues under the Obama administration. The activities include tapping phone calls, as well as intercepting Internet traffic (email, Web use, etc.) VoIP traffic, and text messages. The government is the sole arbiter of what individuals are surveilled, and is under no requirement to disclose its activities.

However, there is an upshot to the appeals court ruling. The court only finds the immunity granted to telecommunications operators to be legal; a case against the government challenging the legality of warrantless wiretapping practices can still proceed. That case, Jewel v. NSA, alleged that the National Security Agency set up secure facilities within AT&T facilities across the United States to engage in an “unprecedented suspicionless general search” of digital communications.

“The federal courts remain a forum to consider the constitutionality of the wiretapping scheme and other claims, including claims for injunctive relief,” wrote Judge Margaret McKeown of the 9th Circuit.

However, even if the Justice Department does not appeal the ruling that Jewel vs. NSA can proceed, it is likely to move the case be dismissed on state secrets grounds. Given the volume of information that has already been disclosed about the NSA’s domestic surveillance operations, the Justice Department may have a difficult time asserting a state secret privilege, but it does mean key proceedings of the case could take place outside public view.

The true value of privacy

Does any of this actually matter? Some might argue that talking about preserving privacy and civil liberties is pointless in an age when many everyday citizens regularly share intimate details of their daily lives with the entire world, including who they know, where they are, what they’re doing, what they like, what they’re looking for, and what they buy. Couple that with personal information about most people squirreled away in private and government databases (think health care providers, credit reporting agencies, banks, credit card companies, even grocery stores, not to mention the erstwhile efforts of online advertisers to track your every move across every site on the Internet) and it’s easy to see why former Sun head Scott McNealy said “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” And that was way back in 1999, before things like smartphones, Facebook, and Foursquare.

facebook-timeline

Fundamentally, the value of privacy comes down to whether individuals consider personal information to be free or expensive. It’s easy to consider information about other people “free,” after all, most of the time, it doesn’t matter to us. That leads to the comforting fallacy that individuals have nothing to worry about if they have nothing to hide. Perhaps, for a handful of people who have absolutely no qualms about living their entire lives in the public eye, that might be true.

However, there’s a distinct difference between having something to hide (like, say, terrorist connections), and not wanting every iota of personal information available to anyone, at any time. Few people would want their entire medical histories made public—which could lead to problems with insurance, health care, job prospects, and more. Similarly, few people would want their communications or financial records available to anyone, or consent to having their location monitored at all times. Is it acceptable to live our lives constantly wondering how our actions might be interpreted by the myriad of other people, organizations, and governments who might be watching?

Simply put, most people believe that information about themselves belongs to them, and ought to be under their control. We find information about ourselves to be “immeasurably valuable.” Sure, we’re free to share details if we like. But we should also be free not to share information, or to have information about ourselves collected and used with no right of recourse, appeal, deletion, or correction, because we recognize that information could be misused by others, to our detriment.

Unfortunately, in the world of 2012, it looks like Americans — and most other people — are finding themselves with less and less choice in the matter. And if you’re a marketer or a government, maybe that’s doubleplusgood.

By Geoff Duncan

inShare90

Courtesy: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/why-2012-is-starting-to-look-like-1984/

Filed under: Article of the Week,

10 Solutions for Climate Change

The enormity of global warming can be daunting and dispiriting. What can one person, or even one nation, do on their own to slow and reverse climate change? But just as ecologist Stephen Pacala and physicist Robert Socolow, both at Princeton University, came up with 15 so-called "wedges" for nations to utilize toward this goal—each of which is challenging but feasible and, in some combination, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions to safer levels—there are personal lifestyle changes that you can make too that, in some combination, can help reduce your carbon impact. Not all are right for everybody. Some you may already be doing or absolutely abhor. But implementing just a few of them could make a difference.

Forego Fossil Fuels—The first challenge is eliminating the burning of coal, oil and, eventually, natural gas. This is perhaps the most daunting challenge as denizens of richer nations literally eat, wear, work, play and even sleep on the products made from such fossilized sunshine. And citizens of developing nations want and arguably deserve the same comforts, which are largely thanks to the energy stored in such fuels.

Oil is the lubricant of the global economy, hidden inside such ubiquitous items as plastic and corn, and fundamental to the transportation of both consumers and goods. Coal is the substrate, supplying roughly half of the electricity used in the U.S. and nearly that much worldwide—a percentage that is likely to grow, according to the International Energy Agency. There are no perfect solutions for reducing dependence on fossil fuels (for example, carbon neutral biofuels can drive up the price of food and lead to forest destruction, and while nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases, it does produce radioactive waste), but every bit counts.

So try to employ alternatives when possible—plant-derived plastics, biodiesel, wind power—and to invest in the change, be it by divesting from oil stocks or investing in companies practicing carbon capture and storage.

Infrastructure Upgrade—Buildings worldwide contribute around one third of all greenhouse gas emissions (43 percent in the U.S. alone), even though investing in thicker insulation and other cost-effective, temperature-regulating steps can save money in the long run. Electric grids are at capacity or overloaded, but power demands continue to rise. And bad roads can lower the fuel economy of even the most efficient vehicle. Investing in new infrastructure, or radically upgrading existing highways and transmission lines, would help cut greenhouse gas emissions and drive economic growth in developing countries.

Of course, it takes a lot of cement, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, to construct new buildings and roads. The U.S. alone contributed 50.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2005 from cement production, which requires heating limestone and other ingredients to 1,450 degrees Celsius (2,642 degrees Fahrenheit). Mining copper and other elements needed for electrical wiring and transmission also causes globe-warming pollution.

But energy-efficient buildings and improved cement-making processes (such as using alternative fuels to fire up the kiln) could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world and prevent them in the developing world.

Move Closer to WorkTransportation is the second leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. (burning a single gallon of gasoline produces 20 pounds of CO2). But it doesn’t have to be that way.

One way to dramatically curtail transportation fuel needs is to move closer to work, use mass transit, or switch to walking, cycling or some other mode of transport that does not require anything other than human energy. There is also the option of working from home and telecommuting several days a week.

Cutting down on long-distance travel would also help, most notably airplane flights, which are one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions and a source that arguably releases such emissions in the worst possible spot (higher in the atmosphere). Flights are also one of the few sources of globe-warming pollution for which there isn’t already a viable alternative: jets rely on kerosene, because it packs the most energy per pound, allowing them to travel far and fast, yet it takes roughly 10 gallons of oil to make one gallon of JetA fuel. Restricting flying to only critical, long-distance trips—in many parts of the world, trains can replace planes for short- to medium-distance trips—would help curb airplane emissions.

Consume Less—The easiest way to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions is simply to buy less stuff. Whether by forgoing an automobile or employing a reusable grocery sack, cutting back on consumption results in fewer fossil fuels being burned to extract, produce and ship products around the globe.

Think green when making purchases. For instance, if you are in the market for a new car, buy one that will last the longest and have the least impact on the environment. Thus, a used vehicle with a hybrid engine offers superior fuel efficiency over the long haul while saving the environmental impact of new car manufacture.

Paradoxically, when purchasing essentials, such as groceries, buying in bulk can reduce the amount of packaging—plastic wrapping, cardboard boxes and other unnecessary materials. Sometimes buying more means consuming less.

Be Efficient—A potentially simpler and even bigger impact can be made by doing more with less. Citizens of many developed countries are profligate wasters of energy, whether by speeding in a gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicle or leaving the lights on when not in a room.

Good driving—and good car maintenance, such as making sure tires are properly inflated—can limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from a vehicle and, perhaps more importantly, lower the frequency of payment at the pump.

Similarly, employing more efficient refrigerators, air conditioners and other appliances, such as those rated highly under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, can cut electric bills while something as simple as weatherproofing the windows of a home can reduce heating and cooling bills. Such efforts can also be usefully employed at work, whether that means installing more efficient turbines at the power plant or turning the lights off when you leave the office.

Eat Smart, Go Vegetarian?—Corn grown in the U.S. requires barrels of oil for the fertilizer to grow it and the diesel fuel to harvest and transport it. Some grocery stores stock organic produce that do not require such fertilizers, but it is often shipped from halfway across the globe. And meat, whether beef, chicken or pork, requires pounds of feed to produce a pound of protein.

Choosing food items that balance nutrition, taste and ecological impact is no easy task. Foodstuffs often bear some nutritional information, but there is little to reveal how far a head of lettuce, for example, has traveled.

University of Chicago researchers estimate that each meat-eating American produces 1.5 tons more greenhouse gases through their food choice than do their vegetarian peers. It would also take far less land to grow the crops necessary to feed humans than livestock, allowing more room for planting trees.

Stop Cutting Down Trees—Every year, 33 million acres of forests are cut down. Timber harvesting in the tropics alone contributes 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere. That represents 20 percent of human-made greenhouse gas emissions and a source that could be avoided relatively easily.

Improved agricultural practices along with paper recycling and forest management—balancing the amount of wood taken out with the amount of new trees growing—could quickly eliminate this significant chunk of emissions.

And when purchasing wood products, such as furniture or flooring, buy used goods or, failing that, wood certified to have been sustainably harvested. The Amazon and other forests are not just the lungs of the earth, they may also be humanity’s best short-term hope for limiting climate change.

Unplug—Believe it or not, U.S. citizens spend more money on electricity to power devices when off than when on. Televisions, stereo equipment, computers, battery chargers and a host of other gadgets and appliances consume more energy when seemingly switched off, so unplug them instead.

Purchasing energy-efficient gadgets can also save both energy and money—and thus prevent more greenhouse gas emissions. To take but one example, efficient battery chargers could save more than one billion kilowatt-hours of electricity—$100 million at today’s electricity prices—and thus prevent the release of more than one million metric tons of greenhouse gases.

Swapping old incandescent lightbulbs for more efficient replacements, such as compact fluorescents (warning: these lightbulbs contain mercury and must be properly disposed of at the end of their long life), would save billions of kilowatt-hours. In fact, according to the EPA, replacing just one incandescent lightbulb in every American home would save enough energy to provide electricity to three million American homes.

One Child—There are at least 6.6 billion people living today, a number that is predicted by the United Nations to grow to at least nine billion by mid-century. The U.N. Environmental Program estimates that it requires 54 acres to sustain an average human being today—food, clothing and other resources extracted from the planet. Continuing such population growth seems unsustainable.

Falling birth rates in some developed and developing countries (a significant portion of which are due to government-imposed limits on the number of children a couple can have) have begun to reduce or reverse the population explosion. It remains unclear how many people the planet can comfortably sustain, but it is clear that per capita energy consumption must go down if climate change is to be controlled.

Ultimately, a one child per couple rule is not sustainable either and there is no perfect number for human population. But it is clear that more humans means more greenhouse gas emissions.

Future Fuels—Replacing fossil fuels may prove the great challenge of the 21st century. Many contenders exist, ranging from ethanol derived from crops to hydrogen electrolyzed out of water, but all of them have some drawbacks, too, and none are immediately available at the scale needed.

Biofuels can have a host of negative impacts, from driving up food prices to sucking up more energy than they produce. Hydrogen must be created, requiring either reforming natural gas or electricity to crack water molecules. Biodiesel hybrid electric vehicles (that can plug into the grid overnight) may offer the best transportation solution in the short term, given the energy density of diesel and the carbon neutral ramifications of fuel from plants as well as the emissions of electric engines. A recent study found that the present amount of electricity generation in the U.S. could provide enough energy for the country’s entire fleet of automobiles to switch to plug-in hybrids, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

But plug-in hybrids would still rely on electricity, now predominantly generated by burning dirty coal. Massive investment in low-emission energy generation, whether solar-thermal power or nuclear fission, would be required to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And even more speculative energy sources—hyperefficient photovoltaic cells, solar energy stations in orbit or even fusion—may ultimately be required.

The solutions above offer the outline of a plan to personally avoid contributing to global warming. But should such individual and national efforts fail, there is another, potentially desperate solution:

Experiment Earth—Climate change represents humanity’s first planetwide experiment. But, if all else fails, it may not be the last. So-called geoengineering, radical interventions to either block sunlight or reduce greenhouse gases, is a potential last resort for addressing the challenge of climate change.

Among the ideas: releasing sulfate particles in the air to mimic the cooling effects of a massive volcanic eruption; placing millions of small mirrors or lenses in space to deflect sunlight; covering portions of the planet with reflective films to bounce sunlight back into space; fertilizing the oceans with iron or other nutrients to enable plankton to absorb more carbon; and increasing cloud cover or the reflectivity of clouds that already form.

All may have unintended consequences, making the solution worse than the original problem. But it is clear that at least some form of geoengineering will likely be required: capturing carbon dioxide before it is released and storing it in some fashion, either deep beneath the earth, at the bottom of the ocean or in carbonate minerals. Such carbon capture and storage is critical to any serious effort to combat climate change.

Additional reporting by Larry Greenemeier and Nikhil Swaminathan.

 

By David Biello  | November 26, 2007

Courtesy: Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com

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