This portable biosensor is capable of detecting viruses, bacteria, proteins, toxins, and other specific modules, and takes just a few minutes to process, which could greatly speed up in-the-field assessments of issues as diverse as groundwater contamination, medical diagnostics, mapping the spread of pathogens, or tracking contaminants in the food system.
China’s pollution problems are widespread, recently becoming the number one cause of social unrest in the country.
A new site called Danger Maps is harnessing the power of crowd-sourcing to identify polluted locations, such as waste treatment facilities, garbage dumps and oil refineries. The site was started by Liu Chunlei after he discovered that his Shanghai apartment is near a landfill, something that was not disclosed when he made his purchase.
Bloomberg reports that the internet is becoming an important tool for activists in China:
“More Internet users are starting to understand how important information and data can be for sustainable social activism,” said Isaac Mao, director of the Social Brain Foundation, a social incubator for Chinese grassroots culture. “Visual sites are very helpful for the public to understand the big picture.”
Phi Beta Iota: As Charles Perrow has documented so well in The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters (Princeton University Press, 2011), the USA is easily as contaminated as China, more so given its history and the pattern of government cover-ups and collaboration with industries externalizing the cost of their poisons to the public. Localized pollution and domestic misbehavior is, however, only a third of the challenge. The other two thirds is data intensive, and has to do with how revenue is spent out of sight of the average citizen — nuclear and bio-chemical programs, surveillance programs, weapons and other programs that are failures or unnecessary. Our next challenge is to foster the emergence of the world brain as a holistic analytic construct, with true cost economics and open data as pillars for collective conscious evaluation of how every dollar is spent. “Unaccounted for” dollars should be cut from the budget — an honest government adopting the Automated Payment Transaction (APT) tax (allowing for the elimination of all income taxes while also applying the same tiny tax to all currency and stock transactions that now escape taxation) would be subject to an annual ballot vote by its citizens on both a balanced transparent budget, and the appropriate APT rate for the year to come as called for by the publicly validated balanced budget.