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Great Pop!Tech talks at ITConversations

ITConversations, one of the most interesting sources of podcasts and other fun web audio, just posted the audio from two of my favorite talks at Pop!Tech 2004. Geologist Richard Alley gave a frank and frightening picture of humans ability to affect global climate. He’s an expert at the analysis of mile-long ice cores drilled in Greenland and Antartica. These cores can be dated, much like tree rings, and by doing chemical analyses of these cores, we can see human-initiated change by tracking the massive rise in lead content (and then sudden fallout, as we collectively decided that leaded gasoline was a stupid idea.) I’m reading his book, “The Two Mile Time Machine” on my current trip to Egypt and finding him almost as engaging and fun in print as he is in person.

The ITConversations folks also just posted Ben Saunder’s talk about his solo ski voyage across the frozen Artic ocean. Ben was ultimately thwarted by the forces Alley writes about – roughly 900 miles into his 1240 mile crossing, the ice had melted so completely that Saunders would have been forced to make several multiple mile swims through polar bear-infested waters, dragging a three-hundred pound sledge, to continue his journey. Ben is a lovely guy – humble enough to shrug off the description of himself as an “explorer”, to define himself as an “extreme blogger”. I would read his blog more often if it didn’t make me feel quite so pathetic about my own utter lack of physical activity. (Flying from Albany, NY to Cairo doesn’t count as a “solo adventure”.)

One of the best things about Pop!Tech was having dinner with these two guys. Clearly polar culture is a fraternity of sorts. I had the sad sense listening to Ben and Richard share polar stories that there’s a rapidly closing window to join the fraternity of folks exploring Artic ice. It’s the sort of thing that makes me want to get on the next plane going north.

One of these days, ITConversations will post my talk from Pop!Tech – rest assured my ego will ensure that I blog it immediately.