Wild World Weather January 2012

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) NCDC State of the Climate Report publishes a chart of significant climate anomalies and events.  Here is the chart for January 2012.

Chart Source: NOAA - http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

Click on the chart or here to view a larger version of the January 2012 climate anomalies chart.  Highlights:

  • Global Temperatures are 19th warmest on record for January, since record keeping began in 1880.
  • Arctic sea ice extent was the fourth smallest extent on record for January, at 7.5 percent below average.
  • January 2012 marks the coolest month since February 2008. However, January 2012 also marks the 26th January and 323rd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below average temperatures was February 1985.

In Australia – coolest maximum January temperatures since January 2000, and 13th coolest since national record keeping began in 1950

In the Philippines – torrential rainfall since mid December 2011 (and after the already devastating Typhoon Sendong) led to another mudslide in January, killing 30 people and leaving 40 others missing on the island of Mindanao.

In southeastern Brazil – heavy rains led to flooding and landslides, killing eight people and forcing over 13,000 people to evacuate the area.

Germany had its sixth wettest January since record keeping began in 1881.

While the contiguous United States experienced the 4th warmest January since record keeping began in 1895, parts of Alaska experienced record cold temperatures and snowfall.

In Spain, January 2012 was the 6th driest January in the last five decades.

Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/map-blended-mntp/201201.gif

  • Monsoonal rains brought heavier-than-average rainfall to southwestern and southeastern Australia.
  • Rainfall was also well above average in south Asia, part of eastern Russia, and southwestern Greenland. Much drier-than-average conditions were observed across northern Canada, the north central United States, eastern Brazil, and northern Sweden.

The sea otter’s one-eyed peek

Sea Otter Photo from Monterey Bay Aquarium Website

I find sea otters so adorable, and it is worth going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium just to watch their antics up close.

Sea otters are protected as a threatened species under the 1972 Endangered Species Act, and small populations can be found along the coasts of Russia, Alaska and Central California.

By the 1900’s, the Southern sea otter was thought to be extinct due to being intensely hunted for their warm, luxurious pelt.  But in 1915, biologists discovered that a group of about 50 otters had survived in a remote Big Sur cove.  In order to protect these last survivors, the biologists kept them a secret — up until 1938.  These biologist were great secret-keepers!

That secret — and protection under the Endangered Species Act — have helped to increase the sea otter population on the California coast to around 2,500.   This is still a small number and other environmental risks like a major oil spill remains a serious threat to the population.

Jeff took these pictures of a napping sea otter, on the terrace,right outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  They anchor themselves with kelp so they do not drift away while resting.

Napping sea otter anchored in kelp, outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Suddenly, this otter’s (one) eye popped open…

Are you looking at ME?

So okay, upon closer look, it is possible that both eyes were open…it’s just from the angle of the photograph, it looked like the otter was giving us a one-eyed peek.

Why are sea otters important?  According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website,

Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of life in Monterey Bay. They’re also a keystone species, helping keep ocean ecosystems in balance. They eat sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp. Without sea otters, these grazing animals can destroy kelp forests and the animals that live there.

Sea otters are also good indicators of ocean health. Since they are the top predator of invertebrates along the Central California coast, changes in their health can make scientists aware of variations in the ocean environment itself.

It is fascinating that the California sea otters we see today are all descended from that tiny Big Sur colony!

And so, though they do still struggle, this fact gives me hope that the endangered Philippine Eagle (see my post earlier this month) may rebound if we are able to keep intact, their remaining forest home.

Photo from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Saving Sea Otters

For cool sea otter facts — like the fact that they have the densest fur in the world, of up to a million hairs PER SQUARE INCH (compared to 100,000 hairs on our entire head  — or less for some of us)click here or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program web page.

Words have wings

I was listening to the radio on the drive home from San Francisco and heard this proverb from Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat:

Paròl gen zèl.” – words have wings (and she also said “words have feet”).

I have not heard this proverb or a similar one in English or Tagalog (Filipino).  The topic on the radio was “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work”, and is on Edwidge Danticat’s reflections on art and exile, and what it means to be an immigrant artist.  It was produced by the Cambridge Forum.

Trail near water headed to the Pacific ocean, Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur, California. A good place for contemplation, or thinking about a proverb or two...

I though of this proverb upon waking up today, and it is true, words do have wings.  In terms of something as basic as gossip, and writers and artist who change our thinking and our perception about the world through their art, words indeed do have wings (and feet).

And it turns out the Haitians have a rich menu of proverbs.  The website konbitkreyol.org — from the Haitian Student Organization at Florida Atlantic University — has a section of Haitian proverbs in Creole, with English translations.

Haitian proverbs are concrete sayings popularly known, repeated, and passed down through generations. During Konbit Kreyol’s general meetings proverbs are sometimes taught in “Creole 101” mostly through skits performed by members.  Haitian proverbs express a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical.

Here are some interesting ones (of the many listed on the site):

  • Lang pa lanmè, men li ka neye-w.” — The tongue is not the sea, but it can drown you
  • Lè kabrit gen twòp mèt, li mouri nan solèy. — When a goat has too many masters (owners), it dies (tied) in the sun
  • Lespwa fè viv.”  — Hope makes one live…
  • Li pale franse.” — He speaks French. (so is likely is deceiving you)
  • Milat pov se neg, eg rich se milat. — A poor mulatto is black, a wealthy black is mulatto.
  • Pa pèdi founo pou yon sèl pen. — Do not lose your oven over just one bread.
  • Se sou pye mango chaje yo voye wòch.” — It is on the mango tree full of fruits that they throw stones.
  • Ou bat tanbou epi ou danse ankò.” — You beat the drum and you dance again.

Seagulls --- Monterey Bay, California

Green message trends…soju and placemats

There has been a trend of “green” and eco-friendly messages, and many big corporations are jumping on board to be part of this movement.

I applaud this, as when a company, say, as big as Wal-Mart makes changes to the way it does business — like in reducing packaging waste or using renewable energy — its impact to the environment and the ripple effect is tremendous, especially if they use their power to make their manufacturers and vendors implement earth-friendly practices.

I have not seen this trend in larger alcohol beverage companies, so it was interesting to see this paper placemat from the Korean soju beverage company, Jinro, spotted at one of our local restaurants.  Jinro is owned by Hite, Korea’s largest beer company.

I like this attractive veggie heart and especially the message of LOVE the earth, HATE the waste”.  And as far as in-your-face messages, a message placed on restaurant placemats would have to rank among the top methods right?

Have you had soju?  It is a distilled beverage traditionally made from rice, and native to Korea.

In the state of California and New York, it can be sold in restaurants that sell beer and wine, despite being a distilled drink with a higher alcohol content.  Thanks to lobbying by the Korean community (with large populations in California and New York), it is exempt from the requirement of a full liquor license costing $12,000 here in California, and instead falls under the much less expensive beer and wine license — at around $300.

Jinro — the company that provides these placemats to restaurants — is Korea’s largest producer of soju, and according to their website, they are:

  • The world’s best-selling spirit for 6 consecutive years (2001 – 2007)
  • Ranked 1st in the Japanese Soju market for the 7th consecutive year
  • Also…that Jinro’s “Chamisul” sales volume exceeded 10 billion bottles on May, 2006
    (if you laid all 10 billion bottles flat on the ground, it covers the circumference of the earth 54 times)

Have you seen similar green messages from other beverage companies?

Oh, and by the way, I posted an article about South Korea and their enthusiasm for recycling in June last year (click here to view), with a link to a humorous article by the BBC’s Lucy Williamson.  Hmmm, so maybe, the campaign is also part of the more green mindset of Koreans…

Males who get pregnant and give birth? Learn more at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

In case you live in the area and have not been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in a while, now is a great time to visit.  With much less crowds, you can relax, take in the beauty of the exhibits, get inspired and take pictures of your favorite creatures with ease.

Also, it is a good opportunity to check out the fascinating exhibit, The Secret Lives of Seahorses, which will be closing in August this year.

I posted an article about seahorses and our visit to the aquarium with our grandsons last year (click here to view).

And yes, there really are  males in the animal kingdom who become pregnant and give birth.  It’s the extraordinary seahorse!

From the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the seahorse exhibit:

Seahorses, sea dragons, pipehorses and pipefishes come in many shapes and sizes, but beneath the surface they’re all fish, with fused jaws and bony plates in place of the scales normally associated with fish.

Perhaps what most distinguishes seahorses from the rest of the animal kingdom is their unique life history—the males become pregnant and give birth. Seahorse fathers shelter their young in protective pouches, while sea dragon and pipefish fathers carry their young on spongy patches on the undersides of their tails.

And on a related topic, I recently learned about blogger Alex Pronove— who returned to the Philippines and now lives in the Palawan area, and writes about “discovering my new island home”.  Check out his informative post on sea dragons (and seahorses) and the supply chain and market here – or click on his photo below.

Photo: Alex Pronove http://retirednoway.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/seadragon-hunter/

 

Vanishing Birds of the Philippines: Art Exhibit at The Bone Room

The artist David Tomb of the conservation group Jeepney Projects Worldwide will speak about his artwork and connection with the Philippine Eagle Foundation at 7:00 PM, on Thursday, February 23 at The Bone Room.

Philippine Eagle Print by David Tomb - www.JeepneyProjects.org

Art by David Tomb will be available at The Bone Room Presents until February 28th, 2012.  The Bone Room is located at 1573 Solano in Berkeley, CA 94707 (Tel. 510-526-5252).

From the Jeepney Projects website:

This exhibition will feature works on paper of the iconic and critically endangered Great Philippine Eagle and the other beautiful endemic birds of the Philippines, including the Rufous Hornbill. There will be living plants and an audio installation that will highlight sounds of the Mindanao jungle. The show shines a light on the rare and beautiful Philippine birds, and the challenges and tension these creatures face to survive and share a sustainable future with an ever-growing Filipino population.

Rufous Hornbill by David Tomb - www.JeepneyProjects.org

Haring Ibon: The magnificent and critically endangered Philippine eagle

Photograph by Klaus Nigge, National Geographic

Many countries use symbols from nature to represent their nation.  These symbols are on flags, coat of arms, official seals and patriotic material  (e.g., the bald eagle for the United States, the Malayan tiger in Malaysia, llamas and condors for Bolivia and Columbia).

In the Philippines, one of the nation’s symbol is the Philippine Eagle, pithecophaga jefferyi – and referred to as “haring ibon” or king bird.  It is among the rarest and most powerful birds in the world.   In 1995, it was designated as the national bird as well as an official  symbol of the Philippines.

The Philippine eagle is one of only four official national symbols enacted through a proclamation by the executive department.  The others are the sampaguita flower, the narra tree, and arnis — the traditional Philippine martial arts, also known as eskrima.

Photo by Harry Asuncion Balais

Sadly, the Philippine Eagle is critically endangered.

Its habitat is the forest, and only 5% is all that remains of the Philippines’ virgin forest.

Although this eagle is one of the largest raptors in the world, it is defenseless against logging — both legal and illegal — that have diminished its home.

These days, it can only be found on four Philippine islands: Mindanao, Luzon, Samar and Leyte.

Photograph by Klaus Nigge – www.nigge.com

Among bird — and especially raptor— enthusiast, the Philippine eagle is considered to be a truly magnificent bird.  While most raptors have yellow or brown eyes, this eagle has a more uncommon blue-gray eye color.  Its average height is over 3 feet tall, and with a wingspan of over 6 feet, it is among the largest birds on our planet.

Lord of the Forest – Photograph by Klaus Nigge for National Geographic

The February, 2008 issue of National Geographic featured an article on the Philippine eagle by nature writer Mel White, with amazing photographs by Klaus Nigge.

Mel White writes about how the potential loss of this eagle “would steal some of the world’s wonder”.  Excerpt from the article  “Lord of the Forest, can the Philippine eagle survive in the shrinking forests of its island home” below:

If the irrevocable transition of one species from rarity to extinction causes a rent in the fabric of our planet, exactly how big a hole would be left by the loss of the Philippine eagle?

No disrespect is meant to the basking malachite damselfly or the fine-lined pocketbook mussel, because all creatures—and plants too—help turn the infinitely complex cogs of the biosphere.

But the loss of this glorious bird would steal some of the world’s wonder. It glides through its sole habitat, the rain forests of the Philippines, powerful wings spread to seven feet, navigating the tangled canopy with unexpected precision.

It is possible that no one has ever described this rare raptor, one of the world’s largest, without using the word “magnificent.” If there are those who did, then heaven heal their souls.

Philippine Eagle Photograph by Klaus Nigge – www.nigge.com

In the kind of irony all too familiar to conservationists, however, the very evolutionary adaptations that made it magnificent have also made it one of the planet’s most endangered birds of prey.

There is no competition for prey from tigers, leopards, bears, or wolves in the Philippine archipelago, the eagle’s only home, so it became, by default, the king of the rain forest.

Expanding into an empty ecological niche, it grew to a length of three feet and a weight of up to 14 pounds. A nesting pair requires 25 to 50 square miles of forest to find enough prey—mammals such as flying lemurs and monkeys; snakes; and other birds—to feed themselves and the single young they produce every other year.

“The birds had the islands all to themselves, and they grew big,” says Filipino biologist Hector Miranda, who has studied the eagles extensively. “But it was a trade-off, because the forest that created them is almost gone. And when the forest disappears—well, they’re at an evolutionary dead-end.”

The Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list the Philippine eagle in the “Threatened” category, and specifically, as “Critically Endangered“.

Photo of Philippine Eagle by Nigel Voaden / IUCN Web Site

IUCN conservation statuses

There are 3 stages within the “threatened” category:

  • Vulnerable
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered

Critically Endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the IUCN Red List for wild species, and it means that a species’ numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations.

We must do what we can and work to save these creatures as next on the IUCN list is the symbol EW – extinct in the wild —- and then, EX – EXTINCT!

Extinction Extinction Extinct in the Wild Critically Endangered Endangered species Vulnerable species Near Threatened Threatened species Least Concern Least Concern

Although the Philippine Wildlife Act 9147 prohibits the killing, collection, possession, and maltreatment of wildlife, poachers — and perhaps those who do not know about the plight of these birds — continue to capture and harm Philippine eagles.

Last year, four birds were rescued from captivity by the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).  A Philippine Star article by Edith Regalado, quotes PEF Executive director Dennis Salvador:

The abuse and harm caused on Philippine eagles illustrate our reckless management of our natural resources. If the Philippine eagle, which is already perhaps the most prominent and recognizable of Philippine wildlife species, suffers a fate as grim as the above four eagles have experienced, how much more other species? What bigger injustices could possibly be happening to the rest of the Philippine environment?” Salvador explained.

Salvador said crimes committed against nature have a much bigger impact than we can imagine, like the deforestation that caused landslides in Leyte.

“We condemn these acts of violence against nature and call on our fellow Filipinos to adopt more sustainable paths towards progress. Our economy is built on natural resources – the indiscriminate killing and plunder of these resources is not development. This will only bring us several steps backward,” Salvador added.

Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jeffery) in flight.  Female delivering twig to nest tree, Lantapan, Mount Kitanglad, Mindanao, Philippines. Photo by Klaus Nigge

As I write this post, and look at these photographs, I am saddened by thoughts of how close these creatures are to being extinct.  I hope it is not too late for these magnificent birds, and a national symbol for the Philippines.

Photo of captive eagle by Klaus Nigge

The same decimated forests that caused these birds to be critically endangered have caused havoc to human beings.

Deforestation is also the root cause of many mudslides and devastating floods that have killed thousands of people in the Philippines.

The most recent being the December, 2011 Typhoon Sendong that struck Northern Mindanao, the Visayas and Palawan and killed over 1,000 souls, and left tens of thousands homeless.

Perhaps by saving these magnificent creatures and what remains of their forest home, we can prevent future disasters and save lives.  Save the forest, save the eagles….and save ourselves?

Time is running out for the Philippine eagle.  If you can help, please click here to help the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

Related Links:

Photograph by Klaus Nigge

Stunning Photographs of the Philippine Eagle by German Photographer Klaus Nigge – can be viewed on his website http://nigge.com/projects/philippine_eagle/thumbnails.html or visit the National Geographic article “Lord of the Forest” for more of Klaus Nigge’s photographs as well as videos.  I was in awe…and I promise you will be too.

 

Eagle Print by David Tomb – www.jeepneyprojects.org

The Jeepney Projects

Art for Conservation http://jeepneyprojects.org/current-projects/

Fine art prints to raise money for research and public outreach/education about the eagle and it’s plight and the need for conservation of habitat where it still survives.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – mission to help the world find
pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges

Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) – Fostering Partnerships for the Environment

FPE’s mission is to be a catalyst for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of communities in critical sites.

Christian Artuso Birds, Wildlife – post on Christian’s Mindanao trip, and birding, conservation, ecology and animal behavior topics.  Except from post:  As you have no doubt gathered from reading through these posts, the level of endemism on the Philippines is extraordinary. In fact, the Philippines not only boasts over 200 endemic species….

ARKive (www.ARKive.com) – videos of the Philippine eagle.  ARKive’s mission is promoting the conservation of the world’s threatened species, through the power of wildlife imagery.

“A vast treasury of wildlife images has been steadily accumulating over the past century, yet no one has known its full extent – or indeed its gaps – and no one has had a comprehensive way of gaining access to it. ARKive will put that right, and it will be an invaluable tool for all concerned with the well-being of the natural world.”

Sir David Attenborough -Wildscreen Patron

Top 9 rice exporters and year 2012 rice supply

Rice Fields in the Philippines, ready for planting

The Philippines is home to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a non-profit, independent research and training organization.

According to the IRRI, the Philippines is the 8th top producer of rice in the world, and also the top rice importer.

China is the world’s biggest producer of rice and is largely self-sufficient (at 130 tonnes a year), while Thailand is the world’s top exporter of rice.

Chart source: The Economist

Since Thailand is a top exporter of rice, I wondered if the devastating floods we heard about in Thailand last year will impact rice supplies in 2012.

The Economist magazine ran an article about this topic (How serious will the impact of the Thai floods be on Asian tables) and it turns out  2011 was an excellent year for rice crops overall, and for other rice producing countries.

Although drought conditions in Arkansas — America’s main grower of rice — will affect US rice exports, bumper crops in Pakistan and India should help with any rice shortfalls from Thailand and the U.S.

The top 9 exporters of rice in 2010-2011 (if the chart included in this post does not load) are:

  1. Thailand
  2. Vietnam
  3. India
  4. United States
  5. Pakistan
  6. Burma
  7. Cambodia
  8. Uruguay
  9. Brazil

See more of Lola Jane’s rice related posts (and more rice field pictures) here.

International Human Development Indicators (HDI)

I am continuing to work on a post about the Philippines and the topic of development — and ways that it is measured — and found a detailed report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Within this report are International Human Development Indicators (HDI).  It measures average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development:

        • a long and healthy life
        • knowledge
        • and a decent standard of living

The most recent HDI is a composite index that covers the period from 1980 to 2011.  It is included in the 2011 issue of the UNDP’s Human Development Report.

The goal of the report is to provide information to help advance human development. The full report can be ordered from the UNDP website or downloaded for free in 18 languages.

The data collected is comprehensive and complicated, and the UNDP has a Frequenty Asked Questions (FAQ) page about the report, which can be accessed here.  Also, background on how they come up with the composite index and the concept of human development is available on the UNDP’s Indices & Data page.

There are a total of 187 countries tracked by the UNDP for this report.  Some countries did not have available data and are not included — e.g. North Korea, Somalia, Monaco.

For this post, I list the top 20 countries, the Philippines and its neighboring countries, as well as countries that might be of interest due to population, or connections for Filipinos (countries in the Middle East where there are large numbers of overseas Filipino workers).

Norway is the top country in this ranking, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is at the bottom.  Click here if you want to see the full report (all 187 countries).   You can also click on the individual country below for further information.

The countries are categorized as:

  • Very high human development (scores of 0.889 in 2011- the USA is in this category)
  • High human development (scores of 0.741in 2011)
  • Medium human development (0.630 in 2011 – the Philippines is in this category)
  • Low human development (0.456 in 2011)

HDI Rank Country     The number columns represent from left to right, the years starting from 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and last column are numbers from  2011.

1 Norway 0.796 0.819 0.844 0.876 0.913 0.938 0.940 0.942 0.941 0.941 0.941 0.943
2 Australia 0.850 0.859 0.873 0.889 0.906 0.918 0.920 0.922 0.924 0.926 0.927 0.929
3 Netherlands 0.792 0.806 0.835 0.866 0.882 0.890 0.897 0.902 0.904 0.905 0.909 0.910
4 United States 0.837 0.853 0.870 0.883 0.897 0.902 0.904 0.905 0.907 0.906 0.908 0.910
5 New Zealand 0.800 0.812 0.828 0.861 0.878 0.899 0.901 0.903 0.904 0.906 0.908 0.908
6 Canada 0.817 0.834 0.857 0.870 0.879 0.892 0.897 0.900 0.903 0.903 0.907 0.908
7 Ireland 0.735 0.754 0.782 0.813 0.869 0.898 0.904 0.909 0.909 0.905 0.907 0.908
8 Liechtenstein .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 0.904 0.905
9 Germany 0.730 0.745 0.795 0.835 0.864 0.895 0.898 0.901 0.902 0.900 0.903 0.905
10 Sweden 0.785 0.796 0.816 0.855 0.894 0.896 0.898 0.899 0.900 0.898 0.901 0.904
11 Switzerland 0.810 0.817 0.833 0.846 0.873 0.890 0.893 0.893 0.892 0.899 0.901 0.903
12 Japan 0.778 0.803 0.827 0.850 0.868 0.886 0.891 0.894 0.896 0.895 0.899 0.901
13 Hong Kong, China (SAR) 0.708 0.745 0.786 0.810 0.824 0.850 0.857 0.870 0.885 0.888 0.894 0.898
14 Iceland 0.762 0.782 0.807 0.830 0.863 0.893 0.895 0.899 0.895 0.897 0.896 0.898
15 Korea (Republic of) 0.634 0.690 0.742 0.793 0.830 0.866 0.873 0.881 0.886 0.889 0.894 0.897
16 Denmark 0.783 0.802 0.809 0.833 0.861 0.885 0.887 0.890 0.891 0.891 0.893 0.895
17 Israel 0.763 0.785 0.802 0.823 0.856 0.874 0.877 0.882 0.882 0.884 0.886 0.888
18 Belgium 0.757 0.777 0.811 0.854 0.876 0.873 0.877 0.880 0.882 0.883 0.885 0.886
19 Austria 0.740 0.762 0.790 0.814 0.839 0.860 0.866 0.870 0.876 0.879 0.883 0.885
20 France 0.722 0.742 0.777 0.819 0.846 0.869 0.873 0.877 0.879 0.880 0.883 0.884
23 Spain  0.691 0.717 0.749 0.801 0.839 0.857 0.862 0.866 0.871 0.874 0.876 0.878
24 Italy 0.717 0.735 0.764 0.795 0.825 0.861 0.866 0.869 0.871 0.870 0.873 0.874
26 Singapore .. .. .. .. 0.801 0.835 0.843 0.850 0.855 0.856 0.864 0.866
28 United Kingdom 0.744 0.759 0.778 0.816 0.833 0.855 0.853 0.856 0.860 0.860 0.862 0.863
30 United Arab Emirates 0.629 0.652 0.690 0.724 0.753 0.807 0.818 0.827 0.835 0.841 0.845 0.846
33 Brunei Darussalam 0.750 0.760 0.784 0.807 0.818 0.830 0.834 0.835 0.834 0.835 0.837 0.838
37 Qatar  0.703 0.728 0.743 0.760 0.784 0.818 0.816 0.825 0.825 0.818 0.825 0.831
42 Bahrain 0.651 0.700 0.721 0.750 0.773 0.795 0.799 0.804 0.806 0.805 0.805 0.806
56 Saudi Arabia 0.651 0.668 0.693 0.710 0.726 0.746 0.751 0.755 0.760 0.763 0.767 0.770
57 Mexico 0.593 0.629 0.649 0.674 0.718 0.741 0.748 0.755 0.761 0.762 0.767 0.770
61 Malaysia 0.559 0.600 0.631 0.674 0.705 0.738 0.742 0.746 0.750 0.752 0.758 0.761
63 Kuwait 0.688 0.715 0.712 0.737 0.754 0.752 0.755 0.756 0.757 0.757 0.758 0.760
64 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya .. .. .. .. .. 0.741 0.748 0.755 0.759 0.763 0.770 0.760
84 Brazil 0.549 0.575 0.600 0.634 0.665 0.692 0.695 0.700 0.705 0.708 0.715 0.718
95 Jordan 0.541 0.577 0.591 0.623 0.646 0.673 0.678 0.685 0.692 0.694 0.697 0.698
101 China 0.404 0.448 0.490 0.541 0.588 0.633 0.644 0.656 0.665 0.674 0.682 0.687
103 Thailand  0.486 0.528 0.566 0.603 0.626 0.656 0.661 0.670 0.672 0.673 0.680 0.682
112 Philippines 0.550 0.552 0.571 0.586 0.602 0.622 0.624 0.630 0.635 0.636 0.641 0.644
113 Egypt 0.406 0.461 0.497 0.539 0.585 0.611 0.618 0.626 0.633 0.638 0.644 0.644
124 Indonesia  0.423 0.460 0.481 0.527 0.543 0.572 0.579 0.591 0.598 0.607 0.613 0.617
128 Viet Nam .. .. 0.435 0.486 0.528 0.561 0.568 0.575 0.580 0.584 0.590 0.593
134 India 0.344 0.380 0.410 0.437 0.461 0.504 0.512 0.523 0.527 0.535 0.542 0.547
187 Congo (Democratic Republic of the) 0.282 0.289 0.289 0.254 0.224 0.260 0.266 0.271 0.270 0.277 0.282 0.286

My notes:

It is not surprising to see countries like Norway,  the USA and Canada among the Top 10.  What did surprise me is to see that the Oceana countries —  Australia and New Zealand —  are also in the Top 10.

Japan, South Korea and  Hong Kong are the only Asian countries in the top 20 ranking.

In 1980, HDI scores for the Philippines were higher than Brazil, Thailand and Egypt

  • Brazil’s 1980 HDI number was 0.549 (Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world, with the largest catholic population — 68% of the population or about 122 million)
  • Thailand was at 0.486
  • Egypt was at 0.406
  • The Philippines was 0.550

For the year 2011,

  • Brazil’s HDI number went from 0.549 to 0.718 and they are now ranked #84 out of 187 countries
  • Thailand’s number went from 0.486 to 0.682 and jumped to a ranking of #103
  • Egypt jumped from a low of 0.406 to 0.644 and now rank #113
  • The Philippines number went from 0.550 to 0.644  and now rank #112

What has happened over the last 30 years to reflect these numbers?  What has changed in Brazil…in Thailand?

Have you heard about this measurement system on the topic of human development — and what do you think about this ranking data?

Strange Weather

Mild Weather in Washington DC, Photo from USA Today Media Gallery

Usually, at this time of year and when I talk to my sister who lives in the east coast, I try not to mention our mild temperatures in the central coast of California — i.e., gloat — as they would typically be in the middle of some blizzard.

So this time, temperatures in New York and Washington DC areas are downright balmy.

Here is a quote from Frank Giannasca, a Weather Channel meteorologist:

It’s exceptional to have it this super warm…The high temperature in Washington DC , was 72 degrees Wednesday, where the average is 44, and it was 63 in New York City, where the average high is 39 degrees.

While in Europe, there are very serious situations and record cold temperatures in Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, and even in Italy and Turkey.

Really strange weather…

Runners take advantage of a warm day as they jog past The Museum Store on William Street in Fredericksburg, Va. Photo from USA Today Media Gallery