Nicolas Magand on the internet

My name is Nicolas Magand and I live in Paris, France. I work as a social media and engagement editor at the Global Editors Network, a non-profit aimed at promoting innovation and sustainability in the news industry. Here I blog mostly about tech and media, but many other topics can face my enthusiasm.

Filtering by Tag: science

A few climate change realities

In a perplexing, worthwhile, but quite long, article on The New Yorker, Bill McKibben describes the reality of the world's situation towards climate change. If the second half tends to go nowhere as interesting as the title promises, they are some good bits to be shared here. A quick selection:

Late in 2017, a United Nations agency announced that the number of chronically malnourished people in the world, after a decade of decline, had started to grow again—by thirty-eight million, to a total of eight hundred and fifteen million," largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks."

Then this one:

Two centuries ago, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was two hundred and seventy-five parts per million; it has now topped four hundred parts per million and is rising more than two parts per million each year. The extra heat that we trap near the planet every day is equivalent to the heat from four hundred thousand bombs the size of the one that was dropped on Hiroshima.

An old classic:

Nine of the ten deadliest heat waves in human history have occurred since 2000.

This:

By 2070, tropical regions that now get one day of truly oppressive humid heat a year can expect between a hundred and two hundred and fifty days, if the current levels of greenhouse-gas emissions continue.

And this:

By 2050, if temperatures rise by two degrees a quarter of the earth will experience serious drought and desertification. The early signs are clear: São Paulo came within days of running out of water last year, as did Cape Town this spring. In the fall, a record drought in Germany lowered the level of the Elbe to below twenty inches and reduced the corn harvest by forty per cent.

My favourite:

Alex Steffen, an environmental writer, coined the term “predatory delay” to describe “the blocking or slowing of needed change, in order to make money off unsustainable, unjust systems in the meantime.” The behavior of the oil companies, which have pulled off perhaps the most consequential deception in mankind’s history, is a prime example.

And the kicker:

This past May, a team of scientists from the University of Illinois reported that there was a thirty-five-per-cent chance that, because of unexpectedly high economic growth rates, the U.N.’s “worst-case scenario” for global warming was too optimistic. “We are now truly in uncharted territory.

Worrisome to say the least.

The effective use of satire for convincing an audience

Elisabeth Preston, writing on Undark:

Over a decade’s worth of research shows that while satire does carry some risks, it can be an effective tool for communication. Satire can capture people’s attention and make complex topics accessible to a wider audience. In some circumstances, it can even sway beliefs. If scientists want to communicate with the public about a serious subject, they might try a joke.

It is not only good news though:

But humor could also manipulate audiences in the opposite direction. “Comedy could just as easily be used to engage people with perspectives that misrepresent or undermine science,” [Lauren Feldman, a communication researcher] says.

Another risk: people might not get the joke.

You already know what I will say but yes, I think The Onion is doing an terrific job when it comes to satire: humourous pieces with a real message; my favourite category being American Voices, where they publish fake one-line opinions from the public regarding a very real issue.

Incredible depiction of the asteroid that wiped off more than 75% of Earth species

Jason Kottke shared some hard-to-wrap-your-head-around facts, extracted from the book The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen:

A rock larger than Mount Everest hit planet Earth traveling twenty times faster than a bullet. This is so fast that it would have traversed the distance from the cruising altitude of a 747 to the ground in 0.3 seconds. The asteroid itself was so large that, even at the moment of impact, the top of it might have still towered more than a mile above the cruising altitude of a 747. In its nearly instantaneous descent, it compressed the air below it so violently that it briefly became several times hotter than the surface of the Sun.

And this one:

[…] in the Yucatan it would have been a pleasant day one second and the world was already over by the next.

Stronger chance of me buying the book than to go to the theater watch yet another movie with featherless dinosaurs.

Check also

Whenever I watch Columbo, as you should, I take some screenshots.

Making lists is something on which I love to waste time; my—ever-changing—favourite songs list was a real challenge.

On the great Letterboxd, I keep a log of the movies I watch, rate them, sometimes review them. 

If you speak French, I highly recommend my friend Nabil's podcast: Art Oriented.

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