Links I Liked; Toilets, Debates, Calculus, and NFL Electricity.



Links I Liked:

1. Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham

2. Toilet Hackers

3. What uses more electricity – an NFL stadium or Liberia?

4. Catching up on my calculus with Khan Academy.

5. Global Economic Prospects and Dataviz say Developing Countries are to grow 5.3% in 2014.



Balancing Conservation and Development in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Photo by UWA


This study is a comprehensive economic analysis of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s revenue and expenditures. Queen Elizabeth National Park is located in Southwest Uganda. It is the most visited park in Uganda, welcoming over 34,000 visitors annually and generating more than $1,705,000 US per year in tourist expenditures. The researchers spent three weeks in the field at Queen Elizabeth National Park, and three weeks in the capital city of Kampala, Uganda to assemble a collection of literature, statistics, and interviews with all stakeholders to fully analyze the national park’s current level of economic efficiency. The study includes data on stakeholder incentives and interests, community relations, resource extraction, economic appraisals of wildlife, and accountability. The researchers ultimately concluded that while Queen Elizabeth is currently profitable, it is not yet reaching its full potential for either conservation efforts or revenue generation, largely due to conflicting stakeholder interests and the results of miscommunication. As such, the park is not playing the larger role in national economic development that it could be. Several closing recommendations to increase efficiency, productivity, and sustainable conservation within the park, and expand QENP’s impact on national development are included in this report.

Here is the paper:   Balancing Conservation and Development


2014 Gates Letter


The annual Gates Letter was released today, highlighting some of the current and popular ‘myths’ of development. These myths include:

“Poor countries are doomed to stay poor,”
“Foreign aid is a big waste,” and
“Saving lives leads to overpopulation.”

The justification for this myth busting, simplified for easy conveyance to readers who may not be as well-versed in development jargon, agrees with much of the current data of growth and aid from the experts, at least from the United States. What this letter succeeds at is putting a (perhaps overly) optimistic spin on the recent history and future of the ‘bottom billion.’ It asserts that aid and development programs have been good for the least developed countries, and that  prospects are continually looking up.

The letter also includes a few cool graphics such as this one on the difference between GDP distribution between 1960 and 2012-


You can also check out what some development experts thought of the letter and the accuracy of the debunked myths.


Poverty Map, Rhino Hunting, Coffee, Kenyan Girls; LIL


Links I Liked:

1. The Times posted this interactive map a couple weeks ago, showing poverty levels across the United States.

2. A controversial Rhino Hunting license just became available for black rhinos, an endangered species.

3. Common Mistakes when Brewing Coffee – for a self-acclaimed coffee lover this taught me a few things.

4. Shattering Rape Culture in Kenya

Piranhas, Super Powers, Ivory, South Sudan; LIL

Photograph by Rennett Stowe

Links I Liked:

In the Chris Blattman style I have decided to add to this blog the occasional posted links that I have found interesting, informative, or simply beautiful. And as always a photo from the natural world will be included at the top.

1. Borrowed from Blattman’s page: The Truth about Piranhas

2. Most Beautiful Villages from Around the World

3. Super Powers Illustrated Chart

4. China Destroys 6 Tons of Illegal Ivory

5. The Best Article on the Current Conflict in South Sudan that I have read thus far.


“Religions and Babies”


Speaking on religion when it comes to fertility rates is touchy. Often individuals and governments do not like to hear the studies that conclude certain religions may be the cause of more or less children per woman. But in a TED talk on Religions and Babies, Hans Rosling argues that religions do not play into fertility rates trends at all. In fact, it is these four factors that lower fertility rates –

“Babies per Woman decrease when…
1. Children survive
2. Many children are not needed for work
3. Women get education and join the labor force
4. Family planning is accessible”

As is often the case, I couldn’t agree more with Rosling. These four factors, particularly the survival of children, have been proven to reduce fertility rates. Not coincidently, these factors occur as countries better develop their healthcare systems and bustling economies. As infant mortality rates drop, the use of child labor in the household becomes less necessary. And as women get proper education and employment opportunities along with accessibility to family planning methods, households feel less pressure and less responsibility to have many children.

Rosling’s theory on a future population plateau aligns with most speculations, arguing in very simple terms (through his favorite visual tool of boxes) that as counties with high numbers of babies per woman further develop, fertility rates will slow and eventually meet those that are already at replacement levels. Thus these dropping rates will create a world population plateau somewhere around 9 billion.

But I must disagree with him that religion and fertility rates have no correlation. While this doesn’t contradict the theory on future replacement levels, it may slow down the timeframe in which Rosling proposes global replacement levels will be reached. The number of babies per woman is weighted by cultural norms and community pressures. When the average number of babies per woman in a small town in Somalia hovers around 7, young women and new mothers see this as the expected standard. And unquestionably in the countries with the highest fertility rates, such as Niger, Mali, Uganda, Afghanistan, South Sudan, etc., religion still has an enormous influence on culture and societal expectations. If practices such as polygamy or the lack of use of contraception remain common conventions in certain religions, areas that densely practice these religions will continue to see higher fertility rates, arguably adding a fifth factor to the above list affecting babies per woman: breaking out of traditional, societal expectations.

And of course here’s Gapminder to replicate the data graphs from the video above and play around with different data sets as well!

World Population Changes


The Washington Post, using data from the UN population fund, posted a map and related article that I found highly telling of the global population trends.

“Countries need to grow in order to stay healthy and successful, but not too quickly or they risk problems like political instability.”


‘Blue countries have growing populations; red countries are shrinking. Purple are growing slowly or not at all. Data source: United Nations Population Fund.’ The numbers include data both births, deaths, and migration. The estimates naturally do not account for wars, natural disasters, etc.

What this article is quick to point out is that the most important region here is Sub-Saharan Africa, which you can see is noticeably darker than the rest of the map. What the Post also points out is that a high number of the births in Sub-Saharan countries are from mothers between the age of 9 and 15, which proves often to be too young an age to support a child because of the health risks, and the mother is usually giving up an education.

For some reference to where these population changes may lead, particularly in that very blue continent, check out this post on The African Spring. Then see below the info-graphic on trends by continent (mostly predictions).

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