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Home on ice

18 Dec


So, winter is here. The arctic ice is nearly back fully frozen after its record summer thaw. But I was thinking today about what more, and earlier, ice melt might mean in the immediate areas around glacier mouths. I’ve always been amazed by iceberg and their frozen river origins and a warming world means that ice break off will be more dramatic than ever before. The size of icebergs is likely to increase. Huge, bobbing offspring of a vanishing, diseased parent.


More icebergs, crashing off ice sheets and piling up against one another in the fjords and oceans of the north. Initially a mix of individual blocks, fused together as they form pack ice. Then breaking up and spreading out. Growing up and leaving home.

In themselves I imagine then as these modular habitable units where, in a parallel universe, people might live inside hollowed out bergs, initially fused together with their neighbours, a strong community where everyone is forced together. Then as the year progresses the break up of the ice occurs and people spread apart, are forced to separate and become independent. It would be like our lives on a hugely exaggerated scale, completely at the hands off the seasons.

But i’m still struck by the image of these habitable units. You’d be completely powerless as to where they take you. Reliant on ocean currents, storm systems and the tides. You’d be blind essentially. Trapped in a glassy mirrored interior. As the summer went on the walls would thin, the outside would become more visible. Eventually the berg would entirely melt. And then what?

The old maps of the Arctic chart out the northern landmasses like icebergs themselves. You can imagine the giant bergs which occasionally break off Antarctica and Greenland would be continental in their scope. Floating country sized slabs of ice. People would chisel their own homes out of the ice. Communities would form, societies would develop, there would be a whole civil system…just for a few months. Each individual mountain of ice would be weathered individually, shaped by its journey. A complete expression of the landscape and seascapes it encounters. Some stained grey by a journey along the petrochemical works around Arkangel, others clear, blue and shining as they glide past Svalbard. Battle wounds would show where collisions would have taken place. Waring iceberg inhabitants even resorting to conflict – invading passing floating communities. Other bergs would seek alliances.

But the sun would keep rising and the winds would shift and 2000 miles from where you started out that society would be shattered, broken up – floes the last melting remains, eventually recycled when the next freeze arrives.


Seasons in Reverse

22 Nov

It’s November and it’s meant to be the end of autumn here in the UK. Earlier this week a surprise “sort of cold” snap hit the middle of the country between Manchester and the northern Home Counties, resulting in snowfall for a large part of the country. It soon melted and was only around for a few hours, but still a strangely early arrival of snowfall in a time when any snowfall in winter is a rarity.

 But where I live that snow didn’t materialise. In fact there wasn’t a frost, but instead a slightly warmer than average November night. Tonight is another one of those slightly-warmer-than-average nights and tonight I was in for a REAL surprise. To me much more surprising than snow in November: flowers. And not just winter flowers, or early spring bloomers. Roses on two bushes on my road. In November not June. Perfect pale pink roses half uncurled like in a Disney cartoon. There were even more surprises: trees in bud, including a large Magnolia in full bud, a few had even flowered! And then there was the blossom. Not extremely impressive spells of lavish, cotton candy like eruptions of colour like recent warm springs have produced, instead a much more muted affair. But still, several trees in blossom, round about 4 months early. And that’s scary- that spring, a time of renewal and regeneration, is occuring when autumn  in meant to be in full swing – a time of regression and repose.

And the effects spread through the ecosystem. At the bus stop last weekend I was surrounded by wasps still searching for nectar in a sole  late bloomer, but with this new flowering will the few that have survived receive an unexpected reward??


21 Sep


Friends of the Earth film comp shortlist deciced. Now voting has started.

Some of the one minute shorts are really good.

Brilliant (below): Autumn




This all reminds me of:
Watch this potential project in Singapore..beautiful presentation.


I’m kind of stressed at the moment. Music wise I’m mourning missing out on Sigur Ros Heima tickets, so the following are my songs of the moment. One really calming…and the others just plain fun…and seeing as Kanye nearly destroyed HBFS, we might as well remember the original.

Michael Andrews (Donnie Darko) – The Artifact and Living (ss)

Simian Mobile Disco – We Are Your Friends (ss)

Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stronger (ss)


19 Sep


It’s peak typhoon season in the Western Pacific ocean. This year there’s been a below average number of storms so far, as there has been for a number of years now. This is in contrast to the Atlantic. Global warming probably doesn’t cause more storms directly, as there are complex weather and water systems involved. However, it’s nearly certain that global warming is causing stronger storms, in all the world’s basins for tropical cyclone development. Sea temperatures are above average in both basins and higher water temperatures, particularly south of Korean, west of Japan and north of Taiwan, have meant that two recent storms exploded in size and strength over a tiny timescale.

Wipha struck south of Shanghai, China at a moderately strong storm, yet a few hours before landfall it was a giant Supertyphoon with winds just below 153mph. Just a few days earlier storm Nari (pictured) went from a minimal Category 1 storm with winds of 75mph, to a compact monster with 140mph winds…in 24 hrs. Normally such rapid intensification takes 3 to 7 days.

Meanwhile back in the Atlantic there have been two landfalling Category 5 storms, which has never happened before, not even in 2005. More amazing is that there have only been 9 Atlantic storms this year!


Vanishing ice and mirrors.

9 Sep

Back in August sea ice cover at the Arctic hit a record low weeks before the end of the melting season.

Ice, going, going...?


Now that sea ice extent is close to reaching its summer minimum it’s declined further. The fabled Northwest Passage has opened up for the first time in recorded history. In the 1500s European explorers set off to find a short route to the other side of the earth but a fortress of ice stood in the path of those ships. Even in the previous record year of 2005 not even the strongest icebreaker could navigate through the castellated icy kingdom that is the expanse of frozen water above Northern Canada and Alaska.

So another record, another route through. Back in the 1500s the incentive to find the passage was financial and colonial. Now it may be the same once again, encouraging trade from East Asia and Australia to the great seaports of Europe: Rotterdam, Felixstowe, Nantes, Deportivo. And this could be useful in a eco-friendly sense, cutting the journey between the furthest reaches of the earth by thousands of miles, millions of gallons of fuel, and huge amounts of carbon emissions. But the irony remains that human activity is behind this new saving grace.

And sea ice will continue to decline. New estimates have called for an ice free Arctic by 2030, 20 years earlier than the most dire predicition by the IPCC, mostly due to a more powerful albedo feedback than previously estimated.


On another note, I think i’m in love with the work of Snøhetta and Kjetil Thorsen.


Buildings like icebergs, icebergs like buildings.

A world of mirrors.

Arvo Part -Spiegel im Spiegel

Eco-Tech (odo)

5 Jun


Sony showed off some new eco friendly technology made from recycled materials under the moniker “odo”. Really imaginative stuff: wind up digital cameras, mini foldable solar panels. No word about future plans to make these commercial.

Engadget summarised:


Sony’s showing off a whole range of new environmentally-friendly gear in Japan at the moment, all of which can be used without ever having to be plugged in for a recharge. One of the more interesting devices of the lot is the Spin N’ Snap digital camera (pictured above), which you charge up simply by placing your fingers in the two holes (which also double as a viewfinder) and spinning it around a few times. Taking a slightly different but equally non-power-hungry route is the Crank N’ Capture camera, which can also apparently capture video of some sort. Rounding out the line up are the Pull N’ Play stereo headphones, the Push POWER Play device (apparently a viewer of some sort), which you charge by rolling it back and forth on a table, and the “Juice Box,” which packs a fold out solar panel that can be used to charge your other devices. What’s more, if we’re reading the machine translation correctly, it appears that all the devices are made of re-used or recycled plastic. Unfortunately, there’s no word on when or if any of them will actually be available, although you can check out a couple more pics courtesy of Impress after the break and plenty more at the link below.

More pics, info:


I find it nice to know that while the world’s tvs, pcs, console, chargers (as the girl from the sissor sisters said “all (y)our electronic shit”[how did i remember that]) waste energy on standby etc…some major tech MNCs are at least thinking about these eco friendly, user friendly entertainment products.

I guess we’ll have to wait to see what happens.


The Arcade Fire-  My Body Is A Cage (Live in Montreal, Feb 07) 

So…Russian/US bickering…or Bush’s great act of misdirection.

5 Jun


Russia, America…not too great right now. At this minute. At the moment. At this current time….the newscasters and papers go on.

But it seems to me LIKE EVERYONE’S MISSING THE CON. Sorry for the hyperbole.

I never had the Bush Administration down as the smartest group of people, but this new Cold War style game of rhetorical ping-pong seems like it’s just as much about taking the limelight off the climate change crisis…which is, btw, man made climate  crisis George, as it is a method of striking a few blows to the Kremlin ahead of the G8 summit.

But it’s so depressing. G8 meets tomorrow, Merkel stands ready to steer the most powerful men and women towards a new climate change agreement, but of course Bush and Friends are determined to cast up an overshadowing feeling of Cold War tension, which is in effect turning the mood back 30 years. Instead of being a forward looking summit, everyone will have one eye looking back on the past.

Icy mood,  but don’t fear:

 The Maps – Don’t Fear (sendspace)