Stunning and informative piece in the NY Times on Louisiana's disappearing coastline, and its causes and consequences.
A great photo essay series would be "The Political Ecologies of the Age of Oil." A great place to start would be coastal Louisiana. The next place to go would be the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.
Below are some great maps with types of crises. It appears simply geographical, but we must also remember the social factors that produce different and unequal experiences before, during, and after socio-natural crisis. The full article has a mouse over feature so you can look up each county of the United States for more fine grain detail.
Emma Marris, writing on her Beacon wolf project, about the recently spotted "wolf like animal" in the Grand Canyon. What is the animal's potential fate?
The first is that his or her fate will entirely depend on human values, human categories and human laws. Whether it is allowed to roam free, moved to a refuge or shipped south will depend on its genome—not whether it attacks livestock or not or any other fact about its actual behavior. This is despite the fact that it neither knows nor cares which category it falls into, and that it is highly likely that its individual personality is more predictive of its behavior than its species assignment. The only thing it can count on is being darted and tranquilized, because even if it is determined to be a gray wolf, agency officials will want to re-collar it. Is this truly a wild life?
Consider pledging and following Marris' wolf project. It's great stuff.
Interesting new website (in beta) that gives a visual story of each countries emissions reduction targets. It includes both domestic fair share as well as embedded export emissions. I like how it begins with equity considerations. This quote caught my eye:
We demand action from everyone, but we don’t believe that everyone is equally responsible for the crisis.
This a good overview of the debate between fossil fuel macro grid models and distributed renewables in addressing energy poverty in the developing world. The author makes the case for distributed solar, which is both a cheaper and more socially and ecological just path.
Plummeting costs for solar and wind (and battery storage) paralleled by increasingly expensive long-distance coal and gas mean that for most developing nations, the time for grid parity has come and gone -- renewables are cheaper even on grid.
Judged by health criterial almonds are a supper food. You can't go wrong. But, analyzed from social and ecological criterial the almond boom doesn't look so good.
Animals and plants have way more resilience than we give them. No doubt there is some greenwashing here by the military, but this looks like a fascinating case in which animals adapt to extreme circumstances. Just look at the picture above.
The Grafenwoehr installation is now home to more than 3,000 plant and animal species, 800 of which are threatened, endangered or legally protected. These include the rare kingfisher, sea eagles, wildcats, a large beaver population, green woodpeckers and even lynx.
Still, biodiversity overall can benefit from the landscapes created by military training, officials say. Tank tracks or grenade craters from war games, for example, have become new breeding grounds and habitats for some endangered species.
Data are still preliminary, but they suggest that both approaches can bring rapid benefits — not just to fish, but also to the habitat on which they depend.
Cool stuff and a movement to watch.
A World Health Organization report found that the fossil fuel economy and industrial civilization is already leading to 1 out of 8 deaths among humans each year (the number would be high for non-humans too). That is an immediate danger, more immediate than what climate change may be contributing to now. In the developing world, the main culprit is burring biomass for cooking and heating, with women being at greater risk than men. In the developed world, the main culprit are fossil fuel automobiles and industrial production.
A beautiful, moving essay by Zadie Smith on climate change and mourning a world we lost:
Oh, what have we done! It’s a biblical question, and we do not seem able to pull ourselves out of its familiar—essentially religious—cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. This is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help—the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved.
Great new article in Nature by Emma Marris that critically examines the focus on charismatic mega-fauna in ecological restoration and wildlife management. A similar story could be told about Pacific Salmon. Though they are not predators, they are considered a key-stone species.
Encouraging discourse from the top echelons of the Chinese Communist Party. Those interested in an unfolding cases study of rapid economic development, socio-ecological transformation, and hyper industrialization should pay attention to China. Changes everyday.
Fascinating idea: moving from an extraction economy to a tourist economy by creating a gigantic marine sanctuary. Worth following this development. Bonus story: they will be using drones to help enforce the ban.
Not good. Not good at all.
Why waiting for peak this or that and waiting for doom and gloom is a bad strategy. Capitalists and technologists continuously find ways to circumvent "limits" and "barriers." We need to take on the inequalities and socio-ecological harms the fossil fuel economy creates, rather than wait for the system to implode. They're not waiting.
Should we bring animals back from extinction? The how to do it is within our grasp. Stewart Brand has a good rundown of the argument, science, and politics involved. I believe that in 100-years time it will seem funny that we even debated this. Still, intentional geo, bio, and eco-engineering frightens, and irks, some as hubris.
A new poll shows that extreme weather events have more impact on changing the perceptions of climate change in respondents than scientific studies. Natural and socio-natural events, and our perception of them, can shift society's attitudes more than rational discourse and science. Perception/experience vs. rational thought. What does this mean for climate change politics? Well, as more and more climate events transpire, whether due to anthropogenic climate change or not, it's possible that public attitudes and perhaps politics will begin to shift even further in favor of concrete steps to reduce CO2 emissions. Yet, it is also possible that more frequent and extreme weather events, with death and destruction, will only fuel the politics of despair and give more weight to the secular Dooms Day environmentalism that is so popular.
The central question of this provocative piece by Emma Marris:
Climate change may not be forever, but it’ll be for a long, long time. Who—or what—will be around thousands or millions of years hence, when the consequences of our casually massive carbon emissions are still playing out? And do we owe them anything?
Emma Marris' new blog. Fun stuff. Nature is not only the large vistas, deep canyons, towering mountains, and majestic forests, but is under our feet, in our backyards, growing in the cracks. Nature is also in the spaces humans create; we create them together.