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Internet Could Act As Ecological Early Warning System

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the keep-your-crowd-source-off-of-mine dept.

The Internet 63

Wired is reporting that ecologists think the internet could act as an early ecological warning system based on data mining human interactions. While much of this work has been based on systems like Google Flu Trends, the system will remain largely theoretical for the near future. "The six billion people on Earth are changing the biosphere so quickly that traditional ecological methods can't keep up. Humans, though, are acute observers of their environments and bodies, so scientists are combing through the text and numbers on the Internet in hopes of extracting otherwise unavailable or expensive information. It's more crowd mining than crowd sourcing."

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Pretty obvious (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274277)

Anything that allows quick transmission of data would help as a warning system.

Re:Pretty obvious (3, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274315)

If the data is accurate. If it isn't, it can send everybody off on a wild goose chase such that it takes you longer to get to the true situation.

Re:Pretty obvious (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27274717)

Right.

And we must remember that the method is useless on a global scale. Africa, for example, is the filthiest and most disease-ridden place in the entire earth, but it does not have the internet. But damn, those Sambos got sum big dicks, let me tell you. I am not a black man, but I dated a woman who had sex with black men. I could see though her pants her thigh-pits widen and her vagina dialate when she became aroused.

The problem with that was the fact that I have an average penis and her vagina had been conditioned to accommodate something along the lines of a tall-can of Budweiser. It reminded me of Sephiroth's Super Nova summon in Final Fantasy 7, at the part where the comet penetrates Jupiter [youtube.com] . Skip to 0:53 and you'll see what I'm talking about. By the way, could anybody tell me what those equations(other than pi * r^2) are for?

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274915)

I foresee a situation where as more of the world becomes ever present on the Internet, ecologists will report a fast growing decline in the ecosystem. This will result from data mining efforts showing increasing change in the environment simply because there are more people reporting.

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278935)

The six billion people on Earth are changing the biosphere so quickly that traditional ecological methods can't keep up.

The statement is an unwarranted assumption of allegations as fact, not corroborated by evidence of accepted facts.

They'll have you taxed to the gills, using 1,000 BTUs a month - While they dine on caviar, under the chandeliers!

When the most profitable corporation in the history of the world [wikipedia.org] conducts an indoctrination campaign, which is trying to get you to "use less", [willyoujoinus.com] something is rotten in Denmark. Wake up and smell the Matrix!

As a friend said about Carbon Cap and Trade Tax programmes in a post on another web-forum:

1) It's undecipherable,...tech-babble quants are essential to tax theft
2) It's pan-taxable,...everybody pays, even if it bears down 'regressively'
3) It's got no sunset clause,...we will always be carbon positive

http://www.carbonfund.org/site/pages/our_projects/category/Project%20Selection/ [carbonfund.org]

Carbon Offset Project Selection

Carbonfund.org is also involved in the growing carbon standard industry, working with the Center for Resource Solutions; Environmental Resources Trust; Chicago Climate Exchange; and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, each of which has or is developing its own carbon offset standards.

Check out our verification page for more information on establishing the carbon standards, and how Carbon Cap & Trade will tax Americans back to the Stone Age.

How about a carbon-free program to return our taxes and make Carbon Cap & Trade(TM)
a Pay As You Go(TM) by the industries which generate the carbon, not the consumers?
Because the producers will be wholesale tax-exempt, and that's the whole gimmick.

If you thought what could be done with Mortgage debt was a confusing mess, wait 'til they get you on carbon - the fundamental element for life, and the reason there is the term "organic" in the first place.

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276793)

People are going to find what they want.

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27279347)

You mean, kind of like the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA, and of course, our wonderful color-coded "Homeland Security Advisory System" [dhs.gov] ? The same people who consider citizens who carry the Constitution or know it well and who support libertarian-minded candidates such as Ron Paul to be domestic terrorists, and yet don't deem illegal aliens, er, "illegal immigrants" to be any kind of threat whatsoever?

Re:Pretty obvious (2, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274793)

Anything that allows quick transmission of data would help as a warning system.

Indeed. Every dry forest should have a point-to-point-lightning device for signalling.

Re:Pretty obvious (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276389)

True and this is really, really old news. I recall around the time of a quake (I think the world series quake) in the SF area, a time so far back in the past that SCO were Good Guys, other more remote folk followed the aftermath of postings on ca.earthquakes and we got the first real data on what happened by determining machines that were down from nearby posters.

It turned out that that particular quake was practically underneath SCO in Santa Cruz and everyone was relieved to see a "We're not dead yet!" message from a poster within SCO.

I also used the KNX news radio station (which always switched to a call in format when there was an earthquake) in the LA area (on my car radio) to get an early indication of how bad it was. In the Northridge quake, I was about to head towards the freeway that suffered a fallen bridge (and killed the reckless motorcycle cop who went right off the new edge).

The capability has existed for three decades and some of us have been doing this for a *long* time.

Crowd mining (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274291)

Don't mine me, bro.

Re:Crowd mining (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274819)

We've completed the mining operations for today - it appears that 4% of internet users have the flu, 5% have BSODs, and 32% haz cheezburger

Predictive Markets (4, Interesting)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274369)

It's too bad predictive markets have been ruled politically impossible.

If you create a futures market for prediction of future events you give people incentive to share the info they have, and a way to benefit from putting this information on the market, to pay them for sharing knowledge. The Pentagon tried to create such a market for terrorist attacks a number of years ago and the political establishment caught wind of it and murdered it in its crib, calling it a cynical way to make money from terrorist attacks. The truth is, it's a damn effective way to get people to share rare but critical info and no other mechanism is as effective.

This reminds me of an old quote that is apropos in today's political and news-climate: "We should never choose what we want to be true over what we know to be true." Politics shouldn't kill things that produce results.

So, if you want to predict ecological disasters, nothing is stopping us from doing things in a similar way. Some lonely janitor in a nuclear facility with inside info about how poorly the place is being run could bet a thousand dollars in the ecological futures market that said reactor was going to experience an environmental problem within the next year and that would quickly become a sign, as others in the know bet the same way, that the place needs attention and needs it now.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274485)

Or, said janitor could bet the money, and then start spreading rumors.

Honestly, after the horrific amount of lies and deceit that have led to the collapse of the real markets, you want to entrust the markets with even more!?

Markets are very, very, very easy to manipulate. That has been proven beyond any doubt. Let's try to come up with regulations that actually work before we expand their use.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274545)

Good luck trying to regulate the human nature out of humans. I'll be waiting for you to report success.

Re:Predictive Markets (2, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274681)

So the better method is to shut our eyes really tight, and trust the markets with everything, even when we know just out fallible they are?

We can't stop people from murdering either. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Re:Predictive Markets (3, Interesting)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27275857)

Not exactly. The problem is how to provide incentive for those with rare but useful information to spread that info in society. Doesn't matter what topic we're worried about, that is a problem all of society has. The answer to that problem is a futures market on events.

As for manipulating the markets... lol. Let's say our janitor does bet that reactor 5 is currently leaking. If that's true there's no way to manipulate it. All that can be done is to take his bet. If someone takes his bet, buys his future, that simply generates more interest in that event. Since the janitor knows the reactor is leaking, and someone has taken his bet, he's likely to clap his hands in joy and bet more, which leads to more interest, more activity, etc.

As a regulator you track activity, it doesn't really matter whether the market has an event going up or down.

What actually happens when a futures market on events occurs is that multiple people with independent info about an event occurring can bet it's going to occur. Those who disagree take that bet. When lots of people bet something's gonna happen and no one bets against it, chances are that's good info about an event about to happen.

How exactly do you manipulate this, then? Bet millions of dollars on fake events occurring? I suppose it's possible, if you're willing to lose the money. However, you'd be just one person. Do you then create multiple fake personalities to bet in a similar way? So you draw attention to a non-event, but you can't achieve a groundswell, as happens with a natural event. And you cannot manipulate a market into deflecting attention, you can only draw attention.

I'm not an expert on these types of markets, however, just know that they do work extremely well for what they're designed to do: place value on rare and useful information that would help society if it were known. The market offers no way to subvert that process.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276469)

"The market offers no way to subvert that process."

Other than the janitor placing the bet, then loosening a key bolt the night before he takes a vacation over seas.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277505)

The investigation into that disaster would be pretty quick.

Re:Predictive Markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27278493)

The investigation into that disaster would be pretty quick.

I wouldn't bet on that. After all, there was no investigation of the tremendous imbalance of put options on companies hurt by the disaster [wtc7.net] prior to 9/11.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

doom (14564) | more than 5 years ago | (#27332291)

After all, there was no investigation of the tremendous imbalance of put options on companies hurt by the disaster prior to 9/11.

Actually, it was investigated by the 9/11 commission, you just don't like the conclusion they came to. (He who does not see the conspiracy must be part of the conspiracy, right?): Snopes: Put Paid [snopes.com]

(You know, I like a good conspiracy theory myself... but you Truthies really need to give it a rest [ww4report.com] .)

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

doom (14564) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331623)

"The market offers no way to subvert that process." Other than the janitor placing the bet, then loosening a key bolt the night before he takes a vacation over seas.

Yup. A market in disaster prediction would offer an economic incentive to causing disasters combined with a way of laundering the income from the crime -- and the libertarians in the audience can't see a way that that might cause problems. But isn't human behavior ruled by economic incentives?

(A conspiracy theory that I like -- which is not to say that I believe it -- is that the Three Mile Island accident was caused by an anti-nuclear activist that infiltrated the plant. That's why it just happened to coincide with the release of the movie "The China Syndrome".)

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276739)

I'm not an expert on these types of markets, however, just know that they do work extremely well for what they're designed to do: place value on rare and useful information that would help society if it were known. The market offers no way to subvert that process.

Sure it does. As the other replier notes, moral hazard is one of the bigger problems with markets. Let's give an extreme example. Suppose someone had placed a bet on your life for $10, double or nothing that you would die by the end of the month. Nothing of consequence would probably occur except you'd probably think it was in poor taste. Nobody sane will do you in for ten bucks. Now supposed someone placed a billion dollar bet that would pay out double or nothing to them if you died by the end of the month. That's a lot of money riding on someone ending your life. Personally, I think no one would enter into such an agreement unless they were certain they could do you in.

The problem here is that in a market there is always some amount of incentive for market participants to act in a way that increases the value of their market holdings. There are ways to reduce the effects of moral hazard, eg, by capping the amount of a particular security and by voiding the assets of anyone who attempts to change market prices via illegal activities.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276595)

So the better method is to shut our eyes really tight, and trust the markets with everything, even when we know just out fallible they are?

The question is "Better than what?" The answer is "Better than any other predictive method that has been tried."

We can't stop people from murdering either. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Exactly why we should have these markets. Unless you aren't interested in making better predictions and having as a result more effective preventive measures.

The End of Days mods his own posts up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27301303)

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1147437&cid=27056793 [slashdot.org]

All this jerk The End of Days does here is post under multiple accounts (to mod his posts as The End of Days up) and he admitted to it in the url above.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276045)

You can't have a free market and regulation at the same time. It doesn't even make sense - laws and regulation are the opposite of free. You might as well say "We'll have free speech right after we stop people from communicating."

The real markets only collapsed because the government messed with them. If the government hadn't made it profitable to make bad loans, the banks wouldn't have done it.

Re:Predictive Markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276523)

The real markets only collapsed because the government messed with them. If the government hadn't made it profitable to make bad loans, the banks wouldn't have done it.

Dur, the government "made it profitable" by deregulating the mortgage industry in the 1990s. There (likely) would not have been a housing bubble if the government had maintained its pre-Clinton housing regulations.

Also, as the recent events have shown, making bad loans was not profitable.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27291107)

Dur, the government "made it profitable" by deregulating the mortgage industry in the 1990s. There (likely) would not have been a housing bubble if the government had maintained its pre-Clinton housing regulations.

No, the deregulation in the 90s was just so they could make it profitable later. They made it profitable later on, by having Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "secure" bad mortgages, in the name of helping poor people buy houses. Previously, the banks wouldn't give loans to people unlikely to pay them back. But once Fannie and Freddie were volunteering to secure the loans, the banks didn't have to give a fuck any more. If the poor people paid off the loans, they (banks) made money, just like any other loan. If the poor people didn't pay off the loans, then it became Freddie and Fannie's problem.

Also, as the recent events have shown, making bad loans was not profitable.

Maybe you didn't get the memo, but the banks aren't really losing money because we're bailing them out... We (taxpayers) are getting fucked, but the banks are basically getting a blank check from the government.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

doom (14564) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331845)

No, the deregulation in the 90s was just so they could make it profitable later. They made it profitable later on, by having Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "secure" bad mortgages, in the name of helping poor people buy houses.

Remember folks, "Republican" and "dis-information" are practically synonymous. (Just don't use the "L" word.).

Allow me to quote Paul Krugman [nytimes.com] (a crazed extremist who's never right about anything, but bear with me):

This is utterly false. Fannie/Freddie did some bad things, and did, it turns out, get to some extent into subprime. But thanks to the accounting scandals, they were actually withdrawing from the market during the height of the housing bubble -- the vast majority of the loans now going bad came from the private sector.

Yet it's now clear that the phony account of the crisis -- that it's all due to Fannie, Freddie, and nasty liberals forcing poor Angelo Mozilo to make loans to Those People -- is setting in as Republican orthodoxy, part of what you have to believe to be a respectable member of the party.

And it never goes away. They spout the bullshit, knowledgeable people cry bullshit, and they just come back with the same line, over-and-over again. If you say it often enough, it must be true.

An MBA should have required Bookie 101 (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276667)

The real markets only collapsed because the government messed with them.

That's only part of the story. I'm a libertarian, but I've lived too long in the 3rd world to accept the idea that private enterprise is going to build certain critical infrastructure (like roads, sewers, etc.)

If the government hadn't made it profitable to make bad loans, the banks wouldn't have done it.

The bad loans are only the tip of the iceberg. The real monster is all the outstanding derivatives. I don't think anyone knows how big it really is, estimates vary by the hundreds of trillions of dollars how much it is, and the most pessimistic figures I've seen dwarf global GDP.

The bad loans weren't the root cause of the problem per se, the problem was that they were packaged into other financial instruments and sold as AAA debt. If they had been treated as the bad loans they truly were, we have enough regulation in place to deal with that.

The governmental blame lies in encouraging very smart people being required by law to do something really dumb (issue bad loans) and leaving the only (temporary) avenue of escape as doing something "innovative" outside the existing financial system.

It's kind of sad in a way. Bookies have had this all figured out for ages. They adjust odds on the bets (like financial derivative instruments) so that no matter which side of the bet wins, they end up paying out something less than they take in. All of the Wall Street bookies appear to have been betting on financial good times continuing forever and that is well-documented in history as being a major mistake.

Does this imply that we should move Wall Street to The Strip in Las Vegas? We would have probably been better off in the long run if it had been done before ...

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276475)

Let's try to come up with regulations that actually work before we expand their use.

Hmmm, like the regulations that Wall Street got around by inventing new financial instruments that hadn't been regulated yet?

It seems that the answer someone got in an open questions period in an upper division Accounting class[1] I took - she asked for an explanation of derivatives and the answer was "I can't explain it here", is still true. But the reason is that no one probably understands the full extent of what has happened.

Markets are very, very, very easy to manipulate.

As are regulations for insiders with the right connections. Why are USians so outraged at miniscule bonuses being paid by AIG (contracted from before public bailout and specified as valid in the TARP), when they sent so many billions to their fellow banking buds?

[1] In 1996. The derivative time bomb got lit under impeached ex-President Clinton.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276693)

Markets are very, very, very easy to manipulate. That has been proven beyond any doubt. Let's try to come up with regulations that actually work before we expand their use.

Compared to bribeable, incompetent regulators? I don't buy it. Besides market manipulation is a non-problem. It grows more interest in the securities, creates more opportunities for knowledgeable traders to make money, and adds liquidity to markets. I'm all for it. Honestly.

In my view, there is a profound ignorance about what is and isn't a problem in markets. Market manipulation, insider trading, abrupt changes when new information comes out. These are means by which traders in the market become informed. Real problems with markets are low participation, illiquidity, moral hazard (eg, the janitor throwing the outcome), or simply not listing securities that illuminate the questions you wish to know.

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

againjj (1132651) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274667)

It seems to me that in cases like the nuclear facility, the number of people with real information would be swamped by the number of people speculating.

Re:Predictive Markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276151)

You seem to ignore the possibility of said janitor using his access to guarantee a specific outcome. As soon as he places his futures bet that the plant will meltdown within the year, he now has an interest in ensuring that this event happens. Any event which may be influenced by a small number of people (such as a terrorist attack, or the destruction of a nuclear facility) creates the possibility for someone to profit from an event they may be able to control. How does adding a potential profit motive to destructive events do anything to improve safety?

Re:Predictive Markets (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276777)

That profit motive already exists. The nuclear facility often is owned by a public corporation. Hence, if the janitor short sells the relevant stock, they can make the killing without requiring a terrorism market.

Oblig XKCD? (1)

john83 (923470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274391)

http://www.xkcd.com/552/

From TFA:

"Web crawlers can collect information on the drivers of ecosystem change, rather than the resultant ecological responses," they write.

Which assumes they have a good model of what's driving the changes in the first place. Of course, I presume data miners are well aware of these problems. Are there any experts on it here who can briefly describe how effective (or not) the current techniques are at sifting gold from the silt?

Data mining == Bullshit filter (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276775)

Are there any experts on it here who can briefly describe how effective (or not) the current techniques are at sifting gold from the silt?

I would imagine so. In the old days, we used to call this a "bullshit filter". So long as you have a good representative sample, statistical methods Just Plain Work. I described some of this in a previous message in this thread.

The biggest danger in any of this sort of work is wanting the results to come out the way you wish them to. If I took a direct poll of my friends and coworkers I talk to, the approval rating of the man bowling 129 in the White House basement would be just around 0, but that is obviously not a representative sample.

I think I wrote a /. journal entry on this topic. If I haven't, I should.

Disclaimer:
I'm from the old school of data mining and not up on the state of the art. And, I do not work for Google.

Strip Mining? (1)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274407)

...data mining human interactions

Depending on what human interaction they're mining, I might be in favor of strip mining.

More of the wrong stuff... (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274413)

I could be a little off base - it's happened before, I'm sure it'll happen again - but this sounds like a load of shit.
We already know there's a problem, what we need to do is fix it.
I don't think that looking into articles on the internet is even close to a solution. It just sounds like a group of people that are good with data trying to cash in on some grants or corporate funding. We don't need more spin doctors.
They need to get off of their asses and do something useful, like take part in some recycling.

Succulent Soylent (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274423)

Will you guys stop griping and eat yer soylent green? You'll feel much better and less gripey on a full stomach of ground-up stomach (and other bits).

If the tubes get clogged with drowned polar bears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27274435)

Then we will know Gaia is pissed.

5th Avenue Flood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27274525)

early warning as in someone posting to twitter that they're abandoning their penthouse due to the rising waters?

yeah, that's a bit late for an early warning.

Wasn't there a TED talk about this? (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274661)

I can't remember most of the details, but the idea was that mobile phone users could snap pictures of poor (or good) environmental practices, and geolocating would pin them to a map.

HORSE SHIT (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274683)

people are TERRIBLE witnesses to events. ask 2 people what they thought happened and you will get 2 different stories. just look at how crap the mainsteam media is at reporting on science subjects, and your telling me you want to use this as a data feed to determine the state of the planet? the red light for "everything is fucked" will be flashing constantly no matter what because no one ever writes stories about stuff that's fine.

Re:HORSE SHIT (2, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27275099)

Arguably, signal cuts through noise. If millions of people are wrong about it but in random directions, the handful of people that are completely right about it, and the elite cadre who are just slightly more right than wrong about it, might turn into a usable few bits of info on the subject.

Re:HORSE SHIT (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27275461)

millions of people voted for bush, twice. just look at the millions of blogs and the quality of their posts. i argue that speed and efficency of information is useless of the information is no good. hell look at /. and how this supposed "wizdom of the group" thing fails hard.

Re:HORSE SHIT (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276863)

i argue that speed and efficency of information is useless of the information is no good. hell look at /. and how this supposed "wizdom of the group" thing fails hard.

See my earlier postings in this thread how I have used data similar to this in real life.

There is absolute gold to be found on slashdot. It requires a lot of work, patience and reading at -1. Suggest you learn how to use that big key on the left side of your keyboard labeled "shift" to make an uppercase letter at the start of each sentence. It's a lot easier than data mining on /., though equally as rewarding.

Re:HORSE SHIT (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276947)

And? People aren't random noise generators just because you think they're a bit dumb. Signal can be filtered out from the noise even if the speakers are all dumb as rocks. That's my take.

Re:HORSE SHIT (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276823)

Arguably, signal cuts through noise. If millions of people are wrong about it but in random directions, the handful of people that are completely right about it, and the elite cadre who are just slightly more right than wrong about it, might turn into a usable few bits of info on the subject.

Precisely correct. Excellent summary.

Also note that assigning a value to "elite cadre" is critical. Ex: Al Gore is NOT an expert on the ecology of the earth, he is a politician. He is expert on begging people for campaign donations (and perhaps knowing when to drink tea so he is outside peeing when critical conversations are taking place in meetings he is supposed to be attending).

Re:HORSE SHIT (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278529)

people are TERRIBLE witnesses to events. ask 2 people what they thought happened and you will get 2 different stories. just look at how crap the mainsteam media is at reporting on science subjects, and your telling me you want to use this as a data feed to determine the state of the planet? the red light for "everything is fucked" will be flashing constantly no matter what because no one ever writes stories about stuff that's fine.

That's an excellent point, but weather stations (and other sensors) and cellphone cameras are not people and are pretty good witnesses.

Too late... (2)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274747)

So by the time we burn more electricity to filter out the bullshit and gross errors we'll be well seated to look at a data set that say we've done too little too late.

Sounds just like everything else on the net if you ask me.

Re:Too late... (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278561)

So by the time we burn more electricity to filter out the bullshit and gross errors we'll be well seated to look at a data set that say we've done too little too late. Sounds just like everything else on the net if you ask me.

Geez, I just can't refute that. Sad but true.

Too quick to keep up? (3, Interesting)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274813)

Most climate change theories put the temperature shift at fractions of a degree every decade. But this is too fast to keep up with the information? Most areas with extensive internet are already under 24X7 satellite surveillance that can measure temperature and precipitation. What are they expecting to get out of this? If I'm sick, I search for "flu remedy". I will likely be sick tomorrow. It is possible I've spread germs and others will get sick. A new trend of searches for "flu remedy" is a decent indicator that people are concerned about the flu, and that is a decent indicator that they know sick people. If I'm cold when I go out, I search for "winter coat". It may or may not be cold tomorrow, but probably will be since cold days group together. It is likely other people are also cold. But this isn't a predictive indicator. I'm cold because the temp already has dropped. The weatherman knows this, and I may have done my search because he said it was going to be cold tomorrow. The satellite knows this. Vast records are kept about how cold it was in Podunk, Kansas. You could predict that coat searches will go up because it was cold, but once people are searching for coats it's as a result of data you've already got from much more scientific measurements. Even if you could find a method that was predictive, what indication is there that populations, even if good at predicting short term weather (I'm not convinced), are competent in any way at predicting long term climate changes? Are they really arguing that the people, many of whom have a disturbing habit of living on flood plains, barrier islands and below sea level, are going to produce accurate data about future environmental shifts? It seems far more likely that this is a chance for someone to do research using a cool new toy. Our climate models current are pretty universal in their failure to predict the future, and that's with tons of solid data. This seems like a buzzword filled hole designed to sound urgent and cutting edge. An unproven model using an unproven data collection method can be used to justify any conclusion that will keep this project funded as long as it sounds cool enough to the people footing the bill.

Re:Too quick to keep up? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276887)

Most climate change theories put the temperature shift at fractions of a degree every decade.

The climate change models are only based on fairly recent data (and the most accurate data is only a few years old).

The scare mongers (like Algore and company) are insisting that climate change is caused by people and the longest-term records show that the earth has undergone many different long-term climate changes like ice ages and subsequent global warming to get things back to "normal".

I would give the recent data putting temperatures as cooling in the last couple of years as much weight as I would put on data from the last 50 or 100 years. The earth has been around for billions of years and we do not have enough data to predict future trends without other variables being added in as "special sauce" to the computation.

FYI: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/paragraph [thefreedictionary.com]

Bahlagna (1)

hardihoot (1044510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27274953)

ecologists think the internet could act as an early ecological warning system based on data mining human interactions

I think Aesop's fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf would probably apply here.

Can't-t-t-t-t Breathththththe-e-e-e-e (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27275033)

help

Re:Can't-t-t-t-t Breathththththe-e-e-e-e (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27276313)

OH GOD CALL A DOCTOR

What if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27275537)

...only thing what Internet can offer, is the free information and freedom to all citizens to express them selfs without a fear that governments and companies will "hunt them down"?

What if Internet is the really the early warning system, but not for global warming or similar, but for knowledge and correct information.

Internet is a Threat (with capitalized T) for those who posses the power to control governments and whole world. Free information is that what makes them afraid. If people would have freedom and could really affect things what surrounds them. These people who has the real power, would loose it right away. Democracy is just a fake what is throw over the truth and the real power. Media is just a tool for those. And all what they want normal people to do, is to buy products what they sells and buy some more and speak by those words what they choose and be quiet from those things, what they do not want us to know.

Internet can only bring the knowledge to us and warn us from evil things. If we just want to use it correctly. Just say No for DRM and all other sensor and you make sure that your children's are free in future.

Why wait till is too late for reversing the damage (3, Insightful)

Nicolay77 (258497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276439)

We already are overpopulated, we already are consuming much more than the biosphere is able to produce with sustainability and we know it.

So, anything that we should do when the warning system fires, we should be doing NOW.

Re:Why wait till is too late for reversing the dam (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27276923)

We already are overpopulated, we already are consuming much more than the biosphere is able to produce with sustainability and we know it.

Maybe, no, and no. There are all sorts of hysterical claims that the "carrying capacity" of Earth is lower than it currently is. To be blunt, we have plenty of food excess now, we have little evidence of this lack of sustainability.

Re:Why wait till is too late for reversing the dam (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27277105)

It looks like, in the US, the per-acre yeild for wheat production has increased, over the past century, at about the same rate of population. At the same time, fewer people are involved in agriculture, and the price of food is declining. The amount of land used for farming seems to be decreasing. From the looks of it, the production of food follows much the same model as the production of other common widely distributed goods. Over time, methods grow more efficient, the price drops, fewer people are needed to produce the good, and labor shifts from actual production to efficiency engineering and new product development.

Re:Why wait till is too late for reversing the dam (2)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278585)

..., and the price of food is declining. ...

You just can't be living in the same U.S. where I live.

Re:Why wait till is too late for reversing the dam (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27282167)

Here's an excellent example of human beings not being able to sense long term trends because the pain here and now looms so much larger than the good over time. While the short term trend is that fuel, and therefor food, prices are increasing, the long term trend is decline. According to the USDA In 1930's people spent about a fourth of their total income on food. In 2004 it's less than a tenth. Also, that's the consumption of food in a time when American's have grown fatter. More food is being bought for a lower percentage of a person's income.

we are the mice (1)

sTeF (8952) | more than 5 years ago | (#27278147)

Douglas Adams was right. ;)
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