Has the day after tomorrow finally arrived?

“You do not have ocean water, salt water breaching the banks of Manhattan in my lifetime. When you start to fill subway tunnels with salt water, much of the ConEd equipment is underground… “That is a design flaw, I believe, for our system now. … We did not anticipate water coming over the Hudson River, coming over the banks and being 5 feet deep on the West Side highway.

…what I saw last night in downtown Manhattan and the south shore of Long Island was some of the worst that I have seen. The Hudson River was literally pouring into the Ground Zero site with such a force that we were worried about the structure of the pit itself… It was frightening.

Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

What would it take the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses to collectively conclude that the effects humans were having on the Earth’s climate posed a serious risk to us? Apocalyptic scenes like this?

Continue reading

New CS4 website

I help organise the Complex Systems Seminar Series (CS4) talks that are held at the University of Southampton. Organising academics is, as the saying goes, like herding cats and it’s not the easiest job in the world at times. But it’s certainly worth the effort as the talks are fascinating and I often get to spend the day with the speakers. A decent lunch and nice evening meal with them and some staff and students helps too.

To coordinate things there is a new and quite shiny website:


Stay tuned for schedule details, news and videos of the talks and interviews with the speakers.


Spreading the world on development

On Wednesday I was one of the speakers at a public lecture series at the University of Southampton. The event was inspired by the UN World Development Information Day that is held every October 24th.

There were 7 talks over 2 hours that evening (more information can be found here) and proved to be a very good showcase for the research into Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation and sustainability science that Southampton is taking a lead on. I met some lovely people and at the end of the event managed to make off with some of the surplus wine. Result!

Another title slide, another talk

Did you know that the 24th October is UN World Development Information Day? It’s been running for 40 years now and is intended to raise the profile of development issues and how they may be addressed. The University of Southampton is holding a public event to show some of its recent work in this area. I will be giving a talk about the global challenges module and our ideas for a TEDx event at Southampton. If you can’t make the talk, you will hopefully be able to catch it being streamed live here. Some event details:

Wednesday 24th October 5:30pm-7:30pm
Room 44/Lecture Theatre A 1041, Highfield Campus

Free wine and nibbles after the talk!


Don’t ask me when exactly or even how, but we are going to run a TEDx event at the University of Southampton. It’s an idea that’s been kicking around for some time but it wasn’t until this week we got some people together and made some serious efforts to make this happen. I say serious; we sat around, drank tea and talked about it. Which is quite serious actually.

How to print money

How much are academic journals worth? The following table gives some indication of dollar costs and how they have changed over a 5 year period.

LC Classification Average
Anthropology $389 $543 40%
Chemistry $2799 $3690 32%
Engineering $1530 $2047 34%
History $183 $263 44%
Philosophy and Religion $205 $281 37%
Political Science $365 $539 48%

Reproduced from http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/scholarlycommunication/the_crisis.html

That’s a hefty increase. Did producing academic journals become over 30% more expensive in that period? No. In fact the cost of producing journals should be much less than it used to be. Many journals are no longer physically printed and so there is a reduction in manufacturing and┬ádistribution costs. The typesetting of papers is increasingly done by authors using desktop tools (such as the absolutely fabulous Latex). The people who write the papers are not paid. The people who review the papers are not paid. The editors of the respective journals are not paid. There will be some paid staff at the journal to coordinate, undertake aspects of typesetting and proof reading. Important jobs but ones that do not command very high salaries. So just were is all this extra money going to? Continue reading