Climate Change Portal: the trail of unexpected connections

The AIB’s climate change portal captures stories and blog posts from over 100 sources of news on Climate Change.  Using technology from UltraKnowledge (UKn), the content of each item is automatically tagged and the portal allows you to search by any term and then it brings up related terms.  Inthis way you can deepen your research or find unexpected connections and head off down new tracks.

I have just been making a virtual journey through the database of articles.  To start with, I wanted to find out more about Prop 23, the proposed legislation in California which pitches “Big Oil” against “Big Green”, with companies that make their living from traditional energy sources ranged against those who are investing heavily in new energy technologies.

A search for “Prop 23″ on the Climate Portal led me to a video in which Joel Francis, a college student, challenged the billionaire Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, to a debate about support for Prop 23.  One of the tags on this story was Larry Page (since his wife is supporting the “No to Prop 23″ campaign) so I clicked on it to see what he and Google were up to in this area (since Google long ago planned to be carbon neutral).

The latest story from Google is that of the robotic cars that seem to have been driving around in the US, with a human driver who can intervene if necessary but who rarely has to.  Two interesting results of having robotic cars would be to improve fuel usage (since they would accelerate and brake smoothly) and to allow cars to drive closer together so requiring fewer roads for the same amount of traffic (or fewer new roads if traffic increased).

That led me to an article on car sharing which described it as the “gateway drug” for the sharing movement since research shows that once someone shares a car they are more open to sharing other physical goods.  From there it was a move to an article about how the web is helping people share their goods.

I had moved some way from the initial article and its debate on energy pollution, but somehow ending up with an article on innovative web services made me feel that I had come back full circle – geographically at least – to California.