Podcast: Updated weekly in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. Subscribe on Stitcher, Spreaker, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or iHeartRadio
You might've noticed some TV commercials featuring unlikely pairings, like Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi, talking about climate change. You might be interested to know that those commercials are part of a campaign put on by one of Al Gore's organizations. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the climate-change enthusiasts is that many of them would rather talk about all the things government should do to tell us how to live and how to change, rather than taking two extremely pragmatic steps:
- They need to realize that energy is a key matter to both climate change and national security. Instead of telling climate-change skeptics why they're wrong, perhaps they could figure out that there's a lot of common ground they could find with people who care strongly about national security and talk about ways we could reduce energy consumption in this country...or produce more of it for less.
- Realize that not every solution to every problem needs to come from the government, or more specifically from higher taxes and tougher regulations. Inducement prizes for innovations in energy hold fantastic promise -- if only we'd use them.
On that subject, take a look at how storm-chasing looked in 1985. We've come incredibly far, with just such basic tools (as they look to us now) as cell phones, GPS navigation, and Nexrad radar...all of which were practically (or completely) nonexistent in 1985.
After stumbling upon some t-shirts emblazoned with CNN headlines (and after thinking that maybe we should do the same thing with the things Brian Dean and I say on our Twitter accounts, we got to discussing the influence of technology on how we communicate. Some people are distinctly worried that tools like text messaging and Internet chat are ruining young people's ability to think. That seems like a concern with some basis in reality -- but also one that gets a little overblown.
There's nothing wrong with text messages or Internet chat themselves -- they're tools with certain purposes. But just like a screwdriver and a hammer can't be used interchangeably, neither should a handwritten letter and a text message. Knowing when to use the right tool makes all the difference, and instead of fretting about how text messaging is ruining people's ability to write, maybe we should be more concerned with guiding people to think about using the appropriate tool for the task.
The UN issued a report last year saying Iceland is one of the best places in the world to live, based on the UN's Human Development Index, which counts things like life expectancy, education, and income. But as technological words work their way into ordinary conversation around the world, it's becoming hard for many languages to avoid the encroachment of English-based techno-speak, which some have taken to calling Nerdic.
Fighting people's natural inclination to communicate -- even if it's via 140-character text messages -- seems futile. And it overlooks some of the tremendous advantages to those same technologies -- like the fact that instant messaging puts deaf people on an equal footing with those who can hear.
It also cannot be overlooked that communications technologies are changing the way cities work. As more people become mobile -- freed from the traditional tethers of a formal office -- cities are going to change. And that will have an impact on everything from energy consumption to urban design, including here in metro Des Moines.
Tax Freedom Day only arrived this week. Doesn't that seem like a lot of time to spend working to pay taxes?
Here's a great idea, direct from France: paint that changes colors when the temperature hits freezing. That could make driving a whole lot safer in the wintertime.
Keywords in this show: cities • climate change • CNN • communications • energy • Gingrich, Newt • Gore, Al • Human Development Index • Iceland • inducement prizes • innovation • instant messaging • language • national security • Nerdic • paint • Pelosi, Nancy • road safety • storm chasing • Tax Freedom Day • technological revolutions • technology • techno-speak • text messaging • tornadoes • United Nations • urban planning • weather forecasting