Monthly Archives: June 2013

Cheetahs’ Outstanding Agility Proves their Secret

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Cheetahs are still the fastest land mammals, regularly clocking speeds of up to 60 m.p.h. But what a recent study using accelerometer tacking collars has shown is that it is not the cheetah’s  base speed that they rely on for catching prey, but their unmatched deceleration, maneuverability, and turning radius. A Cheetah’s secret weapon is ultimately their agility, and this matched with their speed creates the perfect hunter.

Dr. Alan Wilson, a member of London University who has been leading this particular study of the big cats in Botswana, states that a cheetah is “really the all-around athlete, the all-around pursuit predator.” This is of course why they are my favorite big cat.

 

World Access to Energy

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According to the Economist, worldwide Access to Energy has risen significantly in the past 20 years, with the greatest strides seen in East and South Asia. Roughly “1.7 billion people gained access to electricity, and 1.6 billion to modern fuels for household cooking between 1990 and 2010. The world’s population increased by a similar amount, so the proportion of those who have access to modern energy sources rose.” The great strides seen in the data taken from East Asia make sense with the rapid development that China in particular has been experiencing. That being said, the dark sections of blue and red in the visual below depict clearly that South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa still have large populations lacking both electricity and cooking fuels. 

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Taking the development economist’s viewpoint, we would hope that in the next twenty years there would be exceedingly few regions and populations who are still lacking energy access. The International Energy Agency estimates “that nearly $50 billion a year will be needed” to by 2030 achieve the UN’s goal of universal access to modern energy. In other words it is not likely. Nonetheless, all experts in the development field can agree that achieving such would be a major benefit to the local and regional economies, and we can hope that progress continues.

At the same time, however, if the world’s increasing population all gains access to energy that is manufactured from coal or oil, we will have more of the already serious problem of accelerated climate change, high carbon ppm, and drastically changing ecosystems on our hands. This is why initiatives supporting renewable energy products and markets are so vitally important to this issue. (Hint to social entrepreneurs needing inspiration for new ideas).

All Eyes On Syria; UN Appeals for $5b in Aid

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The United Nations has just launched the largest appeal for aid in the institution’s history, a proposal for $5 billion for humanitarian purposes. While conflicts between the forces of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian rebel armies fail to dwindle, millions of Syrians are still being forced to flee the country, escaping to neighboring regions. By the end of this year, “the UN expects the number of refugees – currently more than 1.5 million – to leap to nearly 3.5 million.”

A major concern within this refugee movement is also the plight of Syrian youth, for now “Unicef is warning of a lost generation of young Syrians.” This is highly reminiscent of the Sudanese ‘Lost Boys’ who were displaced for years after Sudan’s Civil War drove them all over North and East Africa. Unfortunately, it is highly possible that Syria’s youth will be displaced in a similar manner.

Map of conflict and refugee displacements:

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Meanwhile, a NYTimes piece reports that “The Syrian opposition will not attend the proposed Geneva conference on the crisis in Syria unless rebel fighters receive new supplies of arms and ammunition.” This could render a meeting that UN officials hoped would be very productive entirely useless, for without a rebel authority peace negotiations will not be possible. Already there has been rough controversy over the arms that Russia has sent to the Syrian troops and the combat assistance and supplies that Western nations have shipped to the rebels. The fact that the rebels are now holding out for more is clear evidence that a position of power remains of greater importance to them than resolving the war. This is awful news for those caught in the crosshairs of the conflict.