Reading round up: blog posts from across the web that caught our attention this week

Home » Reading round up: blog posts from across the web that caught our attention this week


Conservation Magazine reported that some old buildings are probably much more energy efficient than a lot of modern buildings.

Far from being outdated and inefficient, she says, many old buildings have features that help minimize energy use: transoms to distribute natural light into the interior, windows placed to allow for cross-breezes. In fact, according to U.S. Department of Energy data, Monadnock-era commercial buildings—those built before 1920—use less energy per square foot than those built at any other time until 2000.

World 2.0 described how some small island states at risk from sea level rise are seriously considering de-camping to floating islands.

“The last time I saw the models, I was like ‘wow it’s like science fiction, almost like something in space. So modern, I don’t know if our people could live on it. But what would you do for your grandchildren? If you’re faced with the option of being submerged, with your family, would you jump on an oil rig like that? And [I] think the answer is ‘yes’. We are running out of options, so we are considering all of them.”

The Ecologist reported on the worrying trade in food commodities that is driving up food prices in developing countries

The rapid rise in the price of key food commodities such as wheat and maize in the last six months of 2010 pushed 44 million people into extreme poverty, says the report, with the price of food now 55 per cent higher in less industrialised countries than it was 4 years ago. As well as forcing people to eat less nutritious and cheap foods, it also means poor families have less money to spend on healthcare and education for their children.

Yale Environment 360 investigated the strange life of air-dwelling microbes that travel the world affecting the climate.

Microbes, it turns out, are the hidden players in the atmosphere, making clouds, causing rain, spreading diseases between continents, and maybe even changing climates as well. Eos, published by the American Geophysical Union, last month reported that bio-aerosols are “leading the high life.” In the Eos article, David Smith of the University of Washington and colleagues argue that microbes are “the most successful types of life on Earth” and are the unacknowledged players in many planetary processes, particularly in the atmosphere. It’s time we caught up with them.