Daniel Collins

Satellite imagery maps Haiti’s sociopolitical landscape - Crikey Creek

Jan 16, 2010

A key factor in the magnitude of the disaster the followed the earthquake in Haiti last week, and will continue to follow for weeks or months, was the society’s high vulnerability and low resilience. A key factor is this is poor governance. We are probably aware of the political turmoil that rolls through Haiti from time to time – the 2004 rebellion, for example. There is no standing army, a weak police force, and corruption is taken for granted. But we can also get a sense of Haiti’s sociopolitical institutions from satellite imagery, and make comparisons with its neighbour the Dominican Republic. Go to Google Earth and follow the Haiti-Dominican Republic border from coast to coast. You’ll see tangible differences in land management practices and in urban planning. Haiti is less forested, and its remaining forest seems to be there … Read More

Water news haikus no. 8 - Crikey Creek

Jan 15, 2010

How could I forget Events distilled like sake Yes, haikus are back Science Disrupted monsoon A model where mountains rule Not Tibet plateau In the great north lakes Evap now trumps precip in Lake level changes New Zealand Shortfalls of water Enter garden restrictions Zero to xeri International How not to write news Alternet’s coverage error Panned by blog critics Plummeting lake height Yields fewer fish, more migrants Next stop: Chad dust bowl Epic fight for wealth Water book tracks history You are what you read Equipment destroyed As punishment, vandals must Risk crocs for water … Read More

Haiti earthquake - Crikey Creek

Jan 14, 2010

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that Haiti on Tuesday is estimated to have killed more than 100,000 people. With the collapse of hospitals and impoverished emergency services, fatalities will continue to mount. In disasters like this, unless you have particular expertise in disaster response, donating to the Red Cross is the best thing you can do. Either NZ Red Cross or, probably better, the American Red Cross. Disasters like this can be broken down into several phases. Phase 1 – The initial earthquake and aftershock levels buildings, immediately killing and injuring a huge number of people. Infrastructure such as power or water supplies are damaged or destroyed, as are service providers such as hospitals and security. Phase 2. Search and rescue begins immediately, at least by the locals. Fatalities continue as the injured are unable to get necessary … Read More

Water trend spotting for 2010 - Crikey Creek

Jan 12, 2010

World marketing communications brand, JMT, released a ‘100 Things to Watch in 2010’ list at the end of last year. Not hydrological trends but cultural, and geared towards affluent and Western nations. Water made an appearance in seven of them, explicitly or implicitly: Water Footprint Tracking 2009 wasn’t a bad year for this, but 2010 will probably be even better. Tony Allen, the mind behind the ‘virtual water’ concept has a book out this year on that very topic – I assume and hope his audience is the general public. I wonder if ‘virtual water’ will become a catch phrase in North America or Europe. I think NZ will cotton on too, but ever so reluctantly. The Royal Society of NZ released a backgrounder last year, to which I contributed but it was really … Read More

Nor-westers and apricot brandy - Crikey Creek

Jan 09, 2010

I just returned from an important excursion north to Woodend this morning. I was running out of apricot brandy, a crucial ingredient for periodistas. Apparently the Kiwi palate hasn’t acquired a taste, so liquor stores don’t stock it, let alone know it exists. The Prenzel store had one last bottle. And as I drove there and back, I crossed the Waimakariri River. It was flowing high and muddy. It’s blowing a nor’wester at the moment, which for the uninitiated means warm winds that have had their moisture stripped from them by the Southern Alps. This moisture, originally from the Tasman Sea, fell as rain 100-200 km west, in the headwaters of Canterbury’s rivers, and is the reason the Waimak is running high and muddy. Even though it may be hot and sunny well east of the main divide, its rivers … Read More

NZ beaches: Contaminated as - Crikey Creek

Jan 08, 2010

“Due to water pollution the public are warned against swimming, fishing and taking shellfish in this vicinity.” So say health warnings on many of our beaches. Almost a third of our beaches, lakes and rivers were deemed unsafe by MfE during the 08-09 summer, according to a Consumer NZ report covered by NZ Herald. I’d tell you more if I were willing to pay for the report, but no dice I’m afraid. Russell Norman weighs in, decrying the worsening state of our environment. On the other hand, an environmental scientist at the Manukau City Council says some sites are improving, and that you should never expect a pristine urban beach. I wonder if an MfE representative was invited to comment, or a civil and environmental engineering professor. Degraded urban beach water quality is a side-effect of, mainly, sewerage … Read More

In their own words: Artists for Save Our Water - Crikey Creek

Dec 16, 2009

I’ve had an affinity with art since before I can remember. I went through a Seurat phase in primary school. Chalked up an asphalt car park with Picasso’s Guernica. And explained numerical modelling for my PhD defense with Colin McCahon. Art and science both seek to offer narratives about the world. Science takes the objective path, or close to it, while art meanders along the more subjective. But they often overlap or complement each other, as was the case at COCA last Saturday. The exhibition was by Artists for Save Our Water, an ensemble of 12 artists gathered essentially to protest against a reservoir and irrigation scheme that had been proposed for central Canterbury. I covered Saturday’s closing reception previously. (The Press was there, but they didn’t seem to be taking notes.) After the reception, I took the … Read More

Artists and politicians gather to save Canterbury’s water - Crikey Creek

Dec 14, 2009

Canterbury’s water management needs a serious overhaul, according to artists and activists who gathered for an art exhibition at Christchurch’s COCA on Saturday. The exhibition featured works by 12 artists brought together by local artists Sally Hope and Jane Zusters for the second annual Artists for Save Our Water project. The focus this year was on the Waimakariri River, and the proposed Central Plains Water scheme. The artwork chosen as the banner of the exhibition was a work by Ramonda Te Maiharoa. Her composite image depicted a river being blocked by a line of wooden-framed glass doors. In their centre was a door handle and key-hole. The message was simple: With the right key, the CPW’s reservoir in the Waianiwaniwa Valley need not be built. And indeed, ultimately, it was not. In attendance were … Read More

Christchurch art exhibit on local water fight - Crikey Creek

Dec 11, 2009

Short notice, I know, but tomorrow is the last day of the Rivertalk exhibition at the COCA. “Sponsored by The Malvern Hills Protection Society and Alpine Jets the artists journeyed the Waimakariri River seeking inspiration for this exhibition The artists celebrate through their art this magnificent braided river threatened by the proposed Central Plains Water Scheme. Accompanying this exhibition are the winning entries of an art competition for Canterbury School Children.” The exhibit is ostensibly an environmental protest against certain water uses in Canterbury. From 2-4pm, Saturday 12, guest speakers will talk on water issues: Dr Russell Norman, co-leader of the Green Party, and Murray Rodgers, Chairman of the Water Rights Trust. As water science communicator and landscape art fan, I shall be there. Read More

Water news haikus no. 7 - Crikey Creek

Dec 11, 2009

More regular than India’s summer monsoon But not quite as wet Science A seismic story Of fluvial erosion Around Gibraltar Minimal model Of monsoonal tipping point Controlled by water Historical links Between war and temp’rature What of climate change? New Zealand ECan’s head in sand: Surface-groundwater exchange Timaru study Farmer to spill beans On effluent management After spilling crap International Water footprinting Guide to water assessment Virtual focus Index of Banned Words From science journalism Some seem a tad odd Water meter use Encouraged in the UK To control demand Water as weapon Or water as the trigger Water conflict dates … Read More