Reading Around the Internet: September 22, 2014

Land Rights and Sustainability

A recent report by Rights and Resources and presented at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples argues that recognizing the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples living in tropical areas must include securing their rights to their land and thus, to their livelihood, and that this would not only help indigenous peoples economically, but would also help to maintain the forests. As the report states, “Secure local land rights are increasingly recognized as a low-cost strategy to reduce forest carbon emissions; a means to reduce financial risk to investments and secure a sustainable supply of commodities; and a basic human right of the people whose lives and livelihoods rely on local resources.”

Vulnerable Populations and Property Rights

An interesting story from the Asia Foundation discusses various property rights issues that have emerged in Asia. They write that there are key areas that are impacted when land tenure is insecure: “displaced women in conflict and post-conflict countries, urban land tenure for youth, and innovative technologies improving land tenure for vulnerable populations.” This echoes both the report mentioned above written by Rights and Resources and another I had blogged about published by the Open Society Institute a few months ago. Taken all together, there is an emerging consensus among advocates worldwide that property rights matter to a stable and healthy society in part because they protect some of the most vulnerable people in a society.


Yes indeed, here’s my obsession again: The Washington Post had a fascinating story this weekend about volcanologists — no, they are not people who study Vulcans. They study volcanoes…  Sometimes, this involves running and finding cover as hot ash and red-hot rocks fly at them. Sometimes they get to stand back in awe and just watch. No matter what, they have interesting jobs. The story is great and covers some of the current volcanic activity and includes some beautiful and dramatic photos.

Reading Around the Internet: September 16, 2014

There is so much happening — and so much has happened while we were on hiatus… But here are a few topics we think are especially interesting.

Flood Recovery in Colorado

We just passed the one-year anniversary of the Colorado floods. Here’s some photos showing then/now of flood recovery. Several other news sources produced summaries of the current situation. Two we found particular interesting include, which documents the staggering costs of the recovery and describes the help FEMA and other funding sources are giving in the continuing recovery efforts.

NPR also covered the one-year anniversary. Their coverage can be found here.


I have developed a fascination with volcanoes… Hawai’i, after beating off hurricanes earlier this fall, is making plans for the impact the Pu’u O’o crater flow will have in the Pahoa area on the big island. There is a rural community in the path of the lava flow that started in late june and is now advancing around 300-400 yards per day. Hawai’i County Civil Defense is working with various other organizations and officials to prepare in the case that the lava flow moves through subdivisions in the community.

In the meantime, the Bardarbunga volcano system in Iceland is also spewing lava and smoke. Here are some magnificent pictures of that activity. reports that the earthquakes associated with this eruptions are worsening and the smell of sulfur from the volcano has reached Norway’s coast. In Iceland, people are suffering from stinging eyes, sore throats and sinus congestion. People are being told to stay indoors as much as possible.

Hurricane Season

Our first major hurricane (category 3 or higher) of the season has formed in the Atlantic. Hurricane Edouard, according to the Washington Post, appears to be a strong hurricane (at this time) than Sandy. The Atlantic was off to a slow start, but Edouard seems to be helping make up for the relative peace and quiet. In the East Pacific, on the other hand, we’ve seen storm after storm after storm this year.