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The Battle for Middle Earth: Storytelling and disciplinarities

** The following blog might contain some light gaming language**

When the fellowship of The Ring left Rivendell, I suppose we all thought that that was a group very well equipped to deal with Sauron. They had Legolas’ bow, Gimli’s axe, Aragorn’s sword, a wizard and four hobbitses after all. Of course, they also had Boromir but at that time they had not really sold the whole mount Doom idea to him.

In principle, and to some extent in practise, what the Fellowship formed was an interdisciplinary group. Every member of the group had quite a specific expertise and that was each fellow’s contribution to the cause. At this point I will invite you to consider every weapon offered as a different discipline.

The challenge they were facing was quite straight forward. They had to throw the One Ring in Mount Doom and destroy Sauron.

I suppose, in terms of environmental challenges, Sauron was the kind of challenge we were facing 30 or 20 years ago. A straightforward, however big, important or urge…
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My work experience: Designing a renewable energy turbine in Nepal

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Projects vary widely, and all funding comes from grants - that’s why there’s only six full-time staff at the office in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. Over the years various projects have been in partnership with the University of Bristol: that’s how I ended up working at PEEDA for my assessed year in industry. As part of the Engineering Design Degree, all students undertake a year of work experience in their third year.
Project work My primary project for the first few months concerns the design of a pico-hydro Turgo Turbine, a small turbine which is not commonly used in Nepal despite its potential. Currently, one turbine has been imported from China and one turbine is being developed at the University of Bristol. These will be compared in the testing lab at Kathmandu University, and the final design will be manuf…

Back to the Future ‘Hothouse’

Our current global warming target and the trajectory it places us on, towards a future ‘Hothouse Earth’, has been the subject of much recent discussion, stimulated by a paper by Will Steffen and colleagues.  In many respects, the key contribution of this paper and similar work is to extend the temporal framing of our climate discussions, beyond 2100 for several centuries or more.  Analogously, it is useful to extend our perspective backwards to similar time periods, to reflect on the last time Earth experienced such a Hothouse state and what it means.

The Steffen et al paper allows for a variety of framings, all related to the range of natural physical, biological and chemical feedbacks that will amplify or mitigate the human intervention in climate.  [Note: the authors frame their paper around the concept of a limited number of steady state scenarios/temperatures for the Earth.  They then argue that aiming for 2C, potentially an unstable state, could trigger feedbacks tipping the wo…

Belo Monte: there is nothing green or sustainable about these mega-dams

Google Maps
There are few dams in the world that capture the imagination as much as Belo Monte, built on the “Big Bend” of the Xingu river in the Brazilian Amazon. Its construction has involved an army of 25,000 workers working round the clock since 2011 to excavate over 240m cubic metres of soil and rock, pour three million cubic metres of concrete, and divert 80% of the river’s flow through 24 turbines.

Costing R$30 billion (£5.8 billion), Belo Monte is important not only for the scale of its construction but also the scope of opposition to it. The project was first proposed in the 1970s, and ever since then, local indigenous communities, civil society and even globalcelebrities have engaged in numerous acts of direct and indirect action against it.

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As we sit sweltering in our offices, the question on everyone’s lips seems to be “are we going to keep experiencing heatwaves like this as the climate changes?” or, to put it another way, “Is this heat the new norm?”

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‘London is Changing’ was an arts project undertaken by Dr. Rebecca …