Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Global Fires, the Amazon and Humans

global annual co2 emissions map
Fires are natural - most of the time (click on image for larger view).

Natural Global Fires

Many plants and animals have evolved to depend on fires periodically occurring in certain parts of the world. This phenomenon has been occurring for millions of years, successfully replenishing and rejuvenating the areas in which it is allowed to happen. The ashes enrich the soil, animal populations are re-balanced and new life springs into existence. Additionally, these fires do not reduce the amount of land on which forests grow, thereby preserving the ecosystems contained within (with no loss of forest land).

Unnatural Global Fires

Using the word 'unnatural' is always risky, but here it is meant to convey control by humans - which in itself is 'natural', but introduces many variables not before seen in history. Unlike natural fires which are beneficial, unnatural forest fires often have the opposite effect - especially when used to clear land of trees to make way for agriculture or construction. Over time, the number of trees decreases while the number of humans increases. More humans require more agriculture which means more deforestation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Global Homicide Rates by Government Type

world homicide rates by democracy index
Surprising results

For purposes of this article, any mention of homicide rates refers to reported homicide rates.

Open vs Closed

In mostly open countries (full democracies), the homicide rates are rather low when compared to other types of governments - except for authoritarian regimes. Left open to speculation, the reasons can be many. Perhaps people in free societies are happier - happy people don't tend to murder other people, otherwise they wouldn't be happy. In a previous articles, it was shown that full democracies produce longer life spans and are world leaders in technological advancements. So, not only do people thrive when free, but they live longer and pursue creativity.

In mostly closed countries (authoritarian regimes), the homicides rates are also low (comparatively speaking). It's very well possible that not all homicides are reported in these countries - especially given recent events regarding the revolts in the Arabian countries (see Arab Spring). Many thousands have died during this time which would not be reported as a 'homicide.' When the government murders a person, it is viewed as eliminating a criminal - not a homicide (in all countries, that is). But if the rates are somewhat accurate, then why so low? Perhaps it is due to fear - people who are afraid for their own lives probably will not kill others if that means their own death.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The NFL: Pass or Lose

nfl rushing yards per year annually
The rushing game is slowly disappearing.
Heave That Sucker

When it doubt, chunk the pigskin. Whether you like it or not, NFL (National Football League) teams are relying upon passing more and more. Looking at the above chart, the average passing yards per game tends to go up by 25 yards every two decades - or 1.25 yards per year.

Can't Touch This

As the game has progressed, rule changes (especially since 1974) have allowed receivers nearly unrestricted movement down field. The result? A wide receiver can basically sprint thirty or forty yards, 'juking' defenders without being touched. The ball can then be rocketed to them in no time resulting in huge gains - given you have a great quarterback.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finding Earth II

rate of finding exoplanets yearly by distance
By 2030, we will have found approximately 10,000 exoplanets.

"If it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space."
-- from the movie Contact (1997) based on the book Contact by Carl Sagan.

By the year 2030, it's possible that over ten thousand exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) will have been discovered if the above trend continues. That assumes a couple of things:
  1. The rate at which they are being discovered continues to grow in an exponential manner.
  2. There aren't other limiting factors.
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