Friday, September 25, 2009

Pigs, Swine Flu and Other thoughts for the day

How many porkers are currently in Afghanistan? The answer is here. But CNN's Dr. Sanjay gupta and his cameraman caught the H1N1 flu in the same country. Proving once and for all that the term 'swine flu' is a misnomer.
This article from alternet
argues that panic about the swine flu would kill more people than the flu itself. While I do not disagree with the gist of the article, I still think that if a virus like the spanish flu came around again, it would kill a similar number of people overall - especially in developing countries. Though strides have been made in public healthcare, populations have also gone up. And there's more extremely poor people in India now than they were then.
Further obfuscation on climate: the developed world is trying to sell a fishy norm that they call 'carbon intensity', which measures greenhouse gas per-dollar of GDP. It is also unfortunate that China is playing the same game now.

I have myself sounded off on something similar before.

Off the top of my head I can come up with several objections to this.

(1) This norm rewards wastage. Your denominator increases if you waste a lot. It's like saying a hummer is more efficient that a yaris (which it might very well be, if we were comparing miles per dollar spent on purchase of vehicle).

(2) The west has a large financial sector whose main emissions are only indirect (like air-conditioning their offices etc.) This inflates their denominator and gives people the impression that the west is more efficient. And what of all the goods that China exports to the US dirt cheap?
How mobile phones are changing the world. Interesting article from the Economist. Apparently, they're saying the 'Indian business model' can help in mobile phone penetration into other under-developed places. Good stuff. This is happening.
Schmeat? This device is another which seems likely to take the ethical objections away from consuming meat. But how resource intensive is it? How carbon intensive is it? And how do they get animal muscle cells if they don't want to kill aminals?

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