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Satellite images of Beijing’s smog have been popping up on Twitter and blogs as the city suffers shockingly high air pollution levels. Some bloggers point out Beijing’s black skies aren’t so different from pre-1960s London  or Pittsburgh  in their industrial heyday. Even so, a new study  warns that the heat-trapping effect of “black carbon,” or soot, is second only to CO2. Yale’s Environment 360 explains why cutting it could “go a long way to slowing climate change.” Check out cities with high air pollution levels in the Guardian’s data visualization  showing exposure to outdoor air pollution, mapped by city.
Concern over the brutal and fatal rape  of a young woman in India continues to grow. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown highlights a global online petition that has attracted more than a million signatures in “Without frontiers, young people mobilize for change .” On Twitter, plans for a February 14 worldwide event to raise awareness about violence against women are being spread using hashtag #1billionrising , For an academic read on the issue, check out a recent study, linked below, on combating violence against women, covering 40 years and 70 countries. It finds that the “mobilization of feminists…is the critical factor accounting for policy change.” What will the world be like 17 years from now? A new report by the National Intelligence Council  -- Global Trends 2030  (pdf) -- is sparking interest. Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor Joseph S. Nye offers his take on the report’s “gamechangers” and megatrends. One key trend—urbanization—is keenly felt in Nairobi. The city’s Kibera slum is a place where “government is absent,” and where the economy is booming and incomes are rising, according to the Economist, adding it “may be the most entrepreneurial place on the planet.
Reducing some forms of soot emissions — such as from diesel fuel and coal burning — could prove effective in slowing down the planet’s warming.
“Over the past four decades, violence against women (VAW) has come to be seen as a violation of human rights and an important concern for social policy. Yet government action remains uneven.”
“What will the world look like two decades from now? Obviously, nobody knows, but some things are more likely than others.”
“A day in the economic life of Africa’s biggest shanty-town.”
Longreads is a regular feature on the Voices blog highlighting development research and in-depth reporting.