To me, the Web is all about getting informed on-demand. Two videos that are making the rounds this week really get that point across. The first of these had to do with Croc hunter Steve Irwin whose tragic death brought great sadness into our home. Our children are big fans of his shows on Animal Planet. Prior to getting married, my wife and I loved watching Irwin in action so much that when we went to Australia for our honeymoon, we hoped to visit the zoo he ran and meet him (unfortunately, he wasn't htere at the time). Our weekend was dominated by wondering just how it is that such a docile creature as a sting ray -- one that seemed least likely of harming Steve Irwin given the sorts of beasts he customarily tangled with -- ended up doing the harm that it did. CNN has a video that very specifically, and in laymans' terms, answers that question, in the context of Irwin's death. The link to it appears in this article. As a side note, Animal Planet is scheduled to run a tribute to Irwin at 6pm EDT this evening.
The other video came to me by way of my father and touches on another issue that my wife and I learned a lot about when we were in Australia: global warming. Given the proximity of Australia's rainforests to the Great Barrier Reef, it's one of the few places in the world that one can see a lot of the world's ecosystem wrapped up into a neat package in a single day's outing.
Nutrients from the plant and wild life on the rainforest's mountains find their way down the mountainside where they're naturally filtered by mangrove roots in brackish water (crocodile infested brackish water I might add) after which they flow out into the ocean towards the Great Barrier Reef fueling an entirely different chain of nature that loses its footing if those nutrients disappear. But, as the average temperature rises annually, the plant and wildlife at the mountains' tops (life that requires a lower average temperature) dies off and is replaced by that which existed at a lower band on the mountain (in other words, global warming causes life to creep up-mountain in order to survive).
The result of certain wildlife being "popped" off the top is that entire classes of nutrients never make it down the mountainside, through the mangroves, and out to the Reef which in turn causes devestation to the Reef which in turn results in an irreversible cavalacade of cataclysmically harmful events to the oceans, Mother Nature and the Earth. Back in 1999 when my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Australia and when there were lots of people saying that global warming was nothing but propaganda, the naturalists who gave us the tour showed us some very tangible evidence of the problem. Ever since that trip, we've tuned into stories about global warming (and tuned out the naysayers).
This BBC video (on YouTube) showing a one-of-a-kind GM-built salt water-derived hydrogen-powered vehicle of the future that can be converted from a car to a pickup truck in 30 minutes makes me want to place an order for one right now. OK, at $5M, it's a little steep for my budget. But, seeing this video and hearing about how it may only be 10 years off before these are reality gives me hope that our children might have a world to look forward to.
Both videos make me think back to the days before video was readily available on the Web and how the only way to experience such content unless you were lucky enough to be watching TV when it came on was to hear about it second hand from someone else who saw it. When I was on vacation in Maine, connectivity to the Net (using June Fabrics PDANet for Windows Mobile and my Motorola Q) was too spotty for video consumption. Sure, it was good to get away from the world. But I really missed having quality information at my fingertips the way I'm used to having it -- on demand -- at home and work.