Arquivo mensal: maio 2014

Concea aprova resolução sobre reconhecimento de métodos alternativos (MCTI)

JC e-mail 4958, de 23 de maio de 2014

A intenção é reduzir, substituir e refinar o uso de animais em atividades de pesquisa

O Conselho Nacional de Controle de Experimentação Animal (Concea) aprovou em sua 24ª Reunião Ordinária, na quarta (21) e nesta quinta-feira (22), a resolução normativa que define o processo de reconhecimento de métodos alternativos validados para substituição progressiva e segura de ensaios toxicológicos.

Segundo o coordenador do Concea, José Mauro Granjeiro, a resolução permite, de forma efetiva, que o país adote métodos alternativos, independentemente do tipo de produto ou composto – ou seja, a mudança abrange agrotóxicos, cosméticos e medicamentos, por exemplo. A intenção é reduzir, substituir e refinar o uso de animais em atividades de pesquisa.

Em março, a instância acatou recomendação de câmara temporária interna para o reconhecimento de práticas validadas por entidades como o Centro Brasileiro de Validação de Métodos Alternativos (Bracvam) ou por estudos colaborativos internacionais publicados em compêndios oficiais.

Já nesta semana, o Concea recebeu, do Bracvam, a primeira recomendação de métodos alternativos validados e internacionalmente aceitos. Ontem, o conselho deliberou que a câmara permanente temática analise a proposta e convide para discussão representantes da Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária (Anvisa) e dos ministérios da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (Mapa) e do Meio Ambiente (MMA). A carta do centro sugere o reconhecimento de 17 técnicas, que envolvem sensibilização cutânea, potencial de irritação e corrosão ocular, fototoxicidade e genotoxicidade, dentre outros testes.

A expectativa do Concea é aprovar, em curto prazo, um conjunto de práticas validadas e aceitas internacionalmente. Na visão de Granjeiro, é fundamental ao país destinar recursos para o desenvolvimento de novos métodos que aumentem a capacidade preditiva dos ensaios toxicológicos, a fim de proteger o meio ambiente e diminuir o risco para a saúde de seres humanos e animais.

Com a decisão de março, a partir do reconhecimento pelo Concea do método alternativo validado, as instituições têm prazo de cinco anos para substituição obrigatória da técnica original. Para calcular o período, a instância projetou o tempo necessário para a adequação de infraestrutura laboratorial e a capacitação de recursos humanos demandadas pelos ensaios substitutivos.

Fiscalização
O Concea estabeleceu, no início de maio, um novo processo de credenciamento de instituições que produzem, mantém e utilizam animais em atividades didáticas ou científicas. Nesta quarta (21), o conselho discutiu e aprovou proposta de portaria interministerial que institui o Regulamento de Fiscalização do Uso de Animais para Atividades de Ensino ou Pesquisa.

A proposta de texto ainda recebe contribuições de áreas técnicas dos órgãos fiscalizadores estabelecidos pela Lei 11.794/2008. A lista inclui Mapa, MMA e os ministérios da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (MCTI) – pasta à qual o Concea é vinculado -, da Educação (MEC) e da Saúde (MS). Esse grupo deve determinar estratégias de atuação para monitorar as instituições de pesquisa.

(Rodrigo PdGuerra / Ascom do MCTI)

Índice de suicídios entre indígenas no MS é o maior em 28 anos (Combate Racismo Ambiental)

Por , 23/05/2014 14:06

Por Carolina Fasolo, de Brasília (DF), no Cimi

No dia 3 de abril, quando amanheceu em uma aldeia Guarani-Kaiowá, localizada no sul do estado de Mato Grosso do Sul, a mãe de três filhos abriu a porta de casa e paralisou ao ver o corpo frágil de sua menina mais nova suspenso pelo lençol, amarrado à árvore por um nó que parecia firme. No dia anterior, a garota havia completado 13 anos.

“A mãe disse que ela chegou da escola muito triste e reclamando de dores na cabeça”, conta Otoniel, liderança Guarani-Kaiowá. “Depois que todos foram dormir ela amarrou o lençol na árvore e se matou. Um primo dela de 12 anos tinha se enforcado uma semana antes. E uns dias depois que ela morreu outro adolescente, de 16 anos, também se suicidou na mesma aldeia. Fui até lá para saber o que estava acontecendo”.

Os três enforcamentos em menos de duas semanas fazem parte de uma estatística que no ano de 2013 ganhou contornos históricos. Foram contabilizados 73 casos de suicídios entre os indígenas de Mato Grosso do Sul. De acordo com registros do Conselho Indigenista Missionário (Cimi), é o maior número em 28 anos. Os dados, apurados pelo Distrito Sanitário Especial Indígena (DSEI/MS), constam no Relatório de Violência Contra os Povos Indígenas no Brasil, a ser divulgado pelo Cimi em junho.

Dos 73 indígenas mortos, 72 eram do povo Guarani-Kaiowá, a maioria com idade entre 15 e 30 anos. Otoniel acredita que o motivo de tantos jovens cometerem suicídio é a falta de perspectiva. “Não têm futuro, não têm respeito, não têm trabalho e nem terra pra plantar e viver. Escolhem morrer porque na verdade já estão mortos por dentro”.

O procurador da República Marco Antônio Delfino de Almeida, do Ministério Público Federal (MPF) em Dourados (MS), explica que as oportunidades de trabalho para os indígenas são praticamente restritas a atividades subalternas degradantes, como o corte da cana-de-açúcar. “Temos escolas indígenas, mas o modelo educacional não foi construído para a comunidade, existe apenas uma ‘casca indígena’, que não contempla a inserção do jovem no processo produtivo”, completa. 

“A discriminação e o ódio étnico, condutas incentivadas inclusive pelos meios de comunicação, acentuam sobremaneira o problema dos suicídios. Os indígenas são pintados como entraves, empecilhos, obstáculos ao desenvolvimento. É como se a mídia passasse a mensagem ‘Se você quer ficar bem, tire o índio do seu caminho’, ressalta o procurador.

13 anos, 684 suicídios

No período de 1986 a 1997, foram registradas 244 mortes por suicídio entre os Guarani-Kaiowá de MS, número que praticamente triplicou na última década. De 2000 a 2013 foram 684 casos.

“As atuais condições de vida desses indígenas, que desembocam em estatísticas assombrosas de violência, têm origem num processo histórico”, explica Marco Antonio Delfino. “O que aconteceu foi uma transferência brutal, por parte da União, de territórios indígenas para não índios”.

A transferência se deu, principalmente, pelo então Serviço de Proteção ao Índio (SPI) que demarcou, entre 1915 e 1928, oito pequenas reservas no sul do estado para onde diferentes povos indígenas foram obrigados a migrar. “As reservas demarcadas serviam como um depósito gigantesco de mão de obra a ser utilizada conforme os interesses econômicos. Todo o processo de confinamento indígena teve como finalidade sua utilização como mão de obra para os projetos agrícolas implantados no país, desde a cultura da erva-mate até recentemente, com a cana-de-açúcar”, completa o procurador.

O confinamento compulsório, com a sobreposição de aldeias distintas e de dinâmicas político-religiosas peculiares, acirrou o conflito dentro das reservas, alterando profundamente as formas de organização social, econômica e cultural dos indígenas, o que resultou em índices alarmantes de superpopulação, miséria e violência nestes espaços.

Definida pela vice-procuradora-geral da República, Deborah Duprat, como “a maior tragédia conhecida na questão indígena em todo o mundo”, a Reserva Indígena de Dourados é um dos exemplos mais contundentes desse processo histórico. Encravada no perímetro urbano do município, na Reserva vivem hoje mais de 13 mil indígenas em 3,6 hectares de terra. É a maior densidade populacional entre todas as comunidades tradicionais do país, e onde aconteceram 18 dos 73 casos de suicídio no estado em 2013.

“Hoje enfrentamos uma carência extremamente aguda de políticas públicas. Desde 2009 existem discussões para implantar um Centro de Atenção Psicossocial Indígena em Durados mas, por enquanto, não foi adotada nenhuma medida concreta para sua construção”, diz Marco Antonio Delfino. “A impressão que se tem é que as pessoas perderam o controle sobre o monstro que criaram, que são essas reservas. Então, fica nesse jogo de empurra-empurra, sempre com soluções paliativas. Precisamos reconhecer e reparar os erros cometidos para que existam soluções efetivas. O primeiro passo é demarcar os territórios usurpados dos indígenas”, conclui o procurador.

Stem cells as future source for eco-friendly meat (Science Daily)

Date: May 20, 2014

Source: Cell Press

Summary: The scientific progress that has made it possible to dream of a future in which faulty organs could be regrown from stem cells also holds potential as an ethical and greener source for meat. So say scientists who suggest that every town or village could one day have its very own small-scale, cultured meat factory.

Pigs on a farm (stock image). The rising demand for meat around the world is unsustainable in terms of environmental pollution and energy consumption, not to mention the animal suffering associated with factory farming, the authors note. Credit: © goory / Fotolia

The scientific progress that has made it possible to dream of a future in which faulty organs could be regrown from stem cells also holds potential as an ethical and greener source for meat. So say scientists who suggest in the Cell Press journal Trends in Biotechnology that every town or village could one day have its very own small-scale, cultured meat factory.

“We believe that cultured meat is part of the future,” said Cor van der Weele of Wageningen University in The Netherlands. “Other parts of the future are partly substituting meat with vegetarian products, keeping fewer animals in better circumstances, perhaps eating insects, etc. This discussion is certainly part of the future in that it is part of the search for a ‘protein transition.’ It is highly effective in stimulating a growing awareness and discussion of the problems of meat production and consumption.”

van der Weele and coauthor Johannes Tramper point out that the rising demand for meat around the world is unsustainable in terms of environmental pollution and energy consumption, not to mention the animal suffering associated with factory farming.

van der Weele said she first heard about cultured meat in 2004, when frog steaks were served at a French museum while the donor frog watched on (http://tcaproject.org/projects/victimless/cuisine). Tramper has studied the cultivation of animal cells—insect cells mostly—in the lab for almost 30 years. In 2007, he published a paper suggesting that insect cells might be useful as a food source.

It is already possible to make meat from stem cells. To prove it, Mark Post, a professor of tissue engineering at Maastricht University, The Netherlands, presented the first lab-grown hamburger in 2013.

In the new Science & Society paper, van der Weele and Tramper outline a potential meat manufacturing process, starting with a vial of cells taken from a cell bank and ending with a pressed cake of minced meat. But there will be challenges when it comes to maintaining a continuous stem cell line and producing cultured meat that’s cheaper than meat obtained in the usual way. Most likely, the price of “normal” meat would first have to rise considerably.

Still, the promise is too great to ignore.

“Cultured meat has great moral promise,” write van der Weele and Tramper. “Worries about its unnaturalness might be met through small-scale production methods that allow close contact with cell-donor animals, thereby reversing feelings of alienation. From a technological perspective, ‘village-scale’ production is also a promising option.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Cor van der Weele, Johannes Tramper. Cultured meat: every village its own factory? Trends in Biotechnology, 2014; 32 (6): 294 DOI:10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.04.009

Ariel Palácios: “Não são gentlemen” – sobre os barrabravas argentinos (OESP)

20.março.2014 15:06:53

Seção “Não são gentlemen”: Barrabravas argentinos intensificam violência enquanto preparam as malas para viajar para a Copa

Hunos fazendo rolezinho em terras europeias no dia 20 de junho de 451. A gravura, de A. De Neuville (1836-1885), ilustra os bárbaros descendo pauleira na Batalha de Chalôns. Os barrabravas – os hooligans argentinos – teriam estado à vontade. Os “barrabravas” argentinos cresceram durante a ditadura militar com respaldo das autoridades e dos cartolas dos times. Nas últimas três décadas de democracia continuaram sua expansão.

Mais de 50 times de futebol da Argentina, desde os grandes Boca Juniors eRiver Plate aos pequenos El Porvenir e o Chaco For Ever, estão padecendo uma intensificação generalizada das atividades dos“barrabravas”, denominação nativa para os “hooligans”. Tiroteios, assassinatos, espancamentos, extorsões e depredação da propriedade privada e pública foram a tônica no futebol local nos últimos meses, somadas às costumeiras atividades de vendas de drogas, revenda de entradas nos estádios, entre outras. No meio da polêmica sobre esta escalada de violência os responsáveis por estas ações estão planejando detalhadamente sua viagem ao Brasil, onde pretendem assistir os jogos da Copa do Mundo.

Ou, caso não consigam as entradas (a imensa maioria destes barrabravas, segundo informações extraoficiais, ainda não contam com os tíquetes), ficariam do lado de fora dos estádios, fazendo o que os argentinos denominam de “el aguante” (expressão local para designar a exibição de respaldo enfático que uma torcida propicia a seu time).

‘ROLÊ’ NO BRASIL – Uma comitiva de dez barrabravas viajará a Porto Alegre no final de março para reunir-se com contatos locais – entre eles José “Hierro” Martins, da Guarda Popular, do Inter – para preparar o desembarque do contingente das torcidas organizadas argentinas, que usariam a capital gaúcha como quartel-generalpara as viagenspelo resto do país. O grupo argentino estáorganizando o financiamento da viagem desde 2011.

Diversas estimativas indicam que ao redor de 650 barrabravas de 38 clubes argentinos viajariam ao Brasil em dez ônibus para estar presentes durante a Copa. Este volume implicaria em um aumento de 150% em comparação ao número de barrabravas que viajaram à Copa da África do Sul em 2010.

Estes barrabravas integram a Torcidas Unidas Argentinas, entidade conhecida pela sigla “HUA”, que se auto-apresenta como uma ONG para divulgar a “cultura do futebol”. Mas, enquanto que na Copa de 2010 os barrabravas desta organização contavam com lideranças fortes que serviam de interlocutor com diversos integrantes do governo dapresidente Cristina Kirchner, que lhes conseguiam financiamentos, atualmente não possuem um comando único, além de receberem apoios econômicos por parte de aliados da Casa Rosada e da oposição.

Não, o moço do moletom preto não está dando um abraço no rapaz da camista cinza. Segundo diversas autoridades e colunistas esportivos é apenas “paixão esportiva”.

Analistas esportivos consultados pelo Estado sustentam que este cenário de atomização das lideranças e vínculos complicou nos últimos anos o controle da violência dos barrabravas por parte das forças de segurança. No entanto, as autoridades argentinas prometem fiscalizar estes grupos violentos que viajarão ao Brasil. Mas os críticos ironizam, afirmando que o governo Kirchner sequer consegue controlar os barrabravas dentro do próprio país.

O município de Quilmes, na Grande Buenos Aires, foi o cenário de confrontos de barrabravas na semana passada. Os torcedores do clube Quilmes, famosos por sua violência, espancaram os rivais do All Boys com pás, além de desferir punhaladas. Além dos conflitos com outras torcidas, os divididos barrabravas do Quilmes também protagonizam combates internos. Segundo odeputado Fernando Pérez, da União Cívica Radical (UCR), “a Copa acelera as disputas porque os barrabravas se desesperam por financiar suas viagens ao Brasil”.

Estimativas das agênciasde turismo indicamque15 mil argentinos viajariam ao Brasil paraparticipar dos eventos da Copa. Mas, deste total, apenas 4.300 argentinos conseguiram entradas por intermédio da site na internet da Associação de Futebol da Argentina (AFA). Uma parte destes visitantes conseguiriam entradas por intermédios dos cambistas. No entanto, a maioria ficaria sem entradas.

Barrabravas de um time expressam o que desejam que aconteça aos torcedores do time rival com metáfora funérea.

MORTES E BUSINESS – Desde o primeiro ataque protagonizado por barrabravas com saldos fatais na Argentina em 1924 até o ano passado haviam morrido 230 pessoas, além de milhares de feridos. As brigas, que até os anos 80 eram resolvidas a base de socos e pontapés, nos últimos 30 anos foram definidas a base de armas de fogo. Nestes 90 anos a Justiça argentina foi costumeiramente omissa, já que pouco mais de três dezenas de pessoas foram condenadas por essas mortes entre 1924 e 2013.

Ao contrário de outros países onde as torcidas organizadas mais violentas estão vinculadas a grupos de skinheads e neonazistas, na Argentina os barrabravas possuem fortes laços políticos e econômicos com ministros, senadores, deputados, governadores, prefeitos e vereadores, para os quais trabalham organizando comícios, cabos eleitorais e seguranças.

Nos últimos anos na cidade de Buenos Aires enos municípios da Grande Buenos Aires osbarrabravas assumiram gradualmente o controle dos flanelinhas que circulam nas áreas dos shows de rock, estádios de futebol, exposições e demais lugares de passeio dos habitantes da área. Os barrabravas também estão vinculados ao tráfico de drogas, que cresceu de forma acelerada na última década no país. As lideranças destas torcidas organizadas obtêm dos cartolas dos times argentinos entradas para os jogos que são revendidas e também arrancam dízimos dos vendedores de cachorro-quente e outros camelôs. “Não somos escoteiros”, admitiu um barrabrava consultado pelo Estado.

Coreografia improvisada da violência dos estádios argentinos. Um clássico que repete-se com mais frequência nos últimos anos.

ATAQUES – Na semana retrasada, no distrito de Gerli, no município de Lanús, na zona sul da Grande Buenos Aires,um grupo de barrabravas incendiou um carro da polícia estacionado na frente da residência de Enrique Merellas, diretorde El Porvenir, um pequeno time local. “Merellas, você morrerá!” foi uma das legendas pintadas no muro do campo do time. No ano passado o diretor do clube havia apresentado na Justiça 53 denúncias por ameaças e agressões dos barrabravas, que aumentaram desde queo timefoi rebaixado à quinta divisão. “Este time é um depósito de drogas, tal como os outros clubes do país”, sustentou Merellas.

Merellas havia pedido ajuda ao governadorde Buenos Aires eao secretário da Justiça, que colocaram à sua disposição uma viatura policial para proteger sua casa. No entanto, na hora do ataque, os policiais não estavam no carro.

No mesmo dia, no norte da Argentina, na província do Chaco, a casa de Héctor Gómez, presidente do clube Chaco For Ever, da terceira divisão, foi alvo de tiros disparados por um grupo de barrabravas, irritados com sanções da Justiça que determinam que somente os sócios do time podem assistir os jogos quando o clube é anfitrião. “É muito difícil combater a violência no futebol argentino”, lamentou Gómez, que destacou que as drogas e álcool dentro de um estádio tornam “incontrolável” o comportamento dos barrabravas. Segundo Gómez, “o governo e a política usam estes rapazes”.

General e ditador Jorge Rafael Videla com sorriso amplo celebra a conquista da Copa de 1978 na Argentina. Durante o regime militar os barrabravas consolidaram-se e iniciaram sua expansão.

DITADURA E BARRABRAVAS – A Copa de 1978 na Argentina foi um divisor de águas na violência e na estrutura dos “cartolas” do futebol local. Por um lado, a truculência do regime teve influência sobre as torcidas, consolidando o crescimento dos “barrabravas”, que nos anos seguintes à copa começaram a desfrutar da cumplicidade das autoridades esportivas em suas atividades violentas. Simultaneamente, vários técnicos, jogadores de futebol e grupos de barrabravas colaboraram ativamente com o regime militar na repressão aos civis.

Meses após a final de 1978, apadrinhado pela Marinha argentina – que participava da Junta Militar – estabeleceu-se um grupo de poder no controle da Associação de Futebol da Argentina (AFA), liderado por Julio Grondona, que mantém-se no comando do futebol argentino há três décadas e meia. Grondona reelegeu-se ininterruptamente nove vezes desde os tempos da Ditadura. Octogenário, não exibia em 2014 sinais de querer se aposentar.

Barrabravas: sangue, suor e musculatura. Na companhia de colegas do mesmo sexo, com torsos nus, barrabravas fazem apologia da heterossexualidade em âmbito público esportivo. 

E embaixo, do pintor francês Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), a emblemática obra “Police Verso” (Polegares para baixo) que retrata o “panem et circenses” (pão e circo) do Império Romano. O quadro está no Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, EUA. A cena pode parecer algo velha…Mas no fundo é bem atual. Gérôme nasceu em 1824. E morreu em 1904, época em que o futebol era apenas um esporte jogado de forma cavalheiresca.

   

E vamos para um pouco da imprescindível civilização: Georges Prête rege o Intermezzo da Cavalleria Rusticana, de Pietro Mascagni:

*   *   *

Seção “Não são gentlemen”, parte II: Mais de 1.200 ‘barrabravas’ tentariam entrar no Brasil durante a Copa

Não é massagem reiki. São os barrabravas de uma facção do clube Quilmes que espancam outros torcedores do mesmo time (mas de setores rivais).

Mais de 1.200 “barrabravas”, denominação dos ‘hooligans’ argentinos, estão preparando as malas para viajar ao Brasil durante a Copa do Mundo. Isso é o que sustentam investigações feitas pelo jornal portenho “Clarín”, que indicam que o volume de “barrabravas” teria duplicado as estimativas originais, de março, quando as autoridades argentinas calculavam que iriam ao lado brasileiro da fronteira 650 integrantes das violentas torcidas organizadas de times de Buenos Aires e outras cidades do país.

Organizados na “ONG” Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas (Torcidas Unidas Argentinas), conhecida pela sigla “HUA”, os barrabravas foram favorecidos em abril por uma determinação da Justiça de Buenos Aires que permitirá que possam sair da Argentina sem problemas, a não ser nos casos de pessoas que, por questões de processos nos tribunais, estejam impedidos de viajar para fora do país.

Segundo a advogada da HUA, Debora Hambo, os torcedores que irão ao Brasil “não possuem processos penais abertos nem antecedentes de fatos de violência. Os torcedores que viajarão não possuem grau algum de periculosidade”.

Apesar das recentes declarações do ministro dos esportes do Brasil, Aldo Rebelo, de que as autoridades brasileiras estarão de olho nos voos provenientes da Argentina e nos principais pontos de passagem na fronteira entre o Brasil e a Argentina, diversos barrabravas argentinos já estão planejando entrar em território brasileiro pelas fronteiras que o país possui com o Paraguai e Bolívia.

Os barrabravas argentinos teriam conseguido pelo menos 900 entradas para os jogos da primeira fase da Argentina por intermédio da Associação de Futebol da Argentina (AFA), comandada desde 1979 por Julio Grondona. O cartola, aliado de todos os presidentes de plantão, civis e militares, tornou-se colaborador da presidente Cristina Kirchner a partir de 2009, quando fez um lucrativo acordo com o governo para estatizar as transmissões dos jogos de futebol.

Há duas semanas um grupo de 300 barrabravas manifestou-se nas portas da AFA para exigir entradas para os jogos da Argentina no Brasil. Os integrantes da HUA alegam que constituem uma ONG de “luta contra a violência”, e que, portanto, merecem as entradas.

Outras épocas, outros protagonistas de pancadarias a granel. Gravura do séc.XIX sobre invasões bárbaras.

MORTES – Desde 1924, quando ocorreu a primeira morte em um estádio argentino, um total de 278 pessoas foram assassinadas pelos barrabravas em confrontos diretos individuais ou choques de grupos. A AFA, que tem contatos fluidos com as torcidas organizadas – aos quais ocasionalmente recebe em sua sede no centro portenho – jamais atendeu os parentes das vítimas da violência nos estádios. Nestes 90 anos a Justiça argentina condenou apenas três dezenas de pessoas por essas mortes.

 

 

POLL: Tea Party Members Really, Really Don’t Trust Scientists (Mother Jones)

The “science gap” between traditional Republicans and tea partiers is huge in a new survey of New Hampshire residents.

—By 

Tue May 20, 2014 10:46 AM EDT

Kevin Y

It’s one of the biggest trends in US politics over the last decade: A growing left-right split over the validity of scientific information. This “science gap” is apparent most of all on the issue of climate change, but the problem is much broader, encompassing topics ranging from evolution to the safety and effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

Yet even those of us who know how politicized science has become may be surprised by some new polling data out of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. There, survey researcher Lawrence Hamilton has run a new analysis of 568 New Hampshire residents, asking them a variety of questions including the following: “Would you say that you trust, don’t trust, or are unsure about scientists as a source of information about environmental issues?” Hamilton then broke down the responses by party, separating out members of the tea party from more mainstream Republicans. And look at the result:

Lawrence Hamilton, 2014.

This is pretty striking: The first three political groups—Democrats, independents, and non-tea party Republicans—all trust scientists on the environment. But then you come to tea party members, and suddenly, distrust in scientists soars. The numbers are stark: 60 percent of traditional Republicans trust scientists on the environment, versus only 28 percent of tea partiers.

Hamilton says he’s surprised by the strength of these results. “I didn’t realize it would be at the level of division that it was,” says Hamilton. He adds that while Republicans and tea partiers in New Hampshire aren’t precisely the same in all respects as they are elsewhere in America, “in general, New Hampshire is not drastically unrepresentative.” When it comes to tea partiers and more traditional Republicans on the national level, Hamilton says that he “would expect similar gaps to show up.”

So what’s going on with this plummeting trust in scientists on the ideological right? The main factor, Hamilton thinks, is that the highly polarized climate issue is leading climate deniers to break up with scientists in general. “Climate change is sort of bleeding over into a lower trust in science across a range of issues,” says Hamilton. That means the consequences are not limited to the climate issue. “The critiques of climate science work by often arguing that science is corrupt, and then that spills over to other kinds of science,” Hamilton observes.Prior research has found that watching Fox News, in particular, leads to a declining trust in climate scientists.

The new data on trust in science comprise just one part of Hamilton’s new report. The study also looked at partisan gaps on a number of other scientific issues, and compared the size of those gaps with those that exist on non-scientific issues. And again, the result was pretty surprising: In New Hampshire, there is a bigger partisan divide over climate change and whether environmental scientists are trustworthy than there is over abortion and the death penalty. Note that in this analysis, unlike in the earlier figure, Republican responses include both those of traditional Republicans and those of tea partiers. It is the latter who are driving much of the partisan gap on issues like trust in science:

Lawrence Hamilton, 2014

Last week, we got some of the scariest news about global warming yet: We may have already helped set in motion an irreversible destabilization of the West Antarctic ice sheet, thus locking in 10 or more feet of sea level rise over the coming centuries. It’s the kind of news that ought to serve as a wake up call for all Americans, causing them to stop and say: Enough. We’ve got to do something here.

But as these data make clear, when it comes to science, there’s no such thing as “all Americans” any more. There are highly polarized camps, divided over the very validity of the information.

Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds (Science)

12 May 2014 3:00 pm

Blah? Traditional lecture classes have higher undergraduate failure rates than those using active learning techniques, new research finds.

Wikimedia. Blah? Traditional lecture classes have higher undergraduate failure rates than those using active learning techniques, new research finds.

Are your lectures droning on? Change it up every 10 minutes with more active teaching techniques and more students will succeed, researchers say. A new study finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, so-called active learning methods.

“Universities were founded in Western Europe in 1050 and lecturing has been the predominant form of teaching ever since,” says biologist Scott Freeman of the University of Washington, Seattle. But many scholars have challenged the “sage on a stage” approach to teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses, arguing that engaging students with questions or group activities is more effective.

To weigh the evidence, Freeman and a group of colleagues analyzed 225 studies of undergraduate STEM teaching methods. The meta-analysis, published online today in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that teaching approaches that turned students into active participants rather than passive listeners reduced failure rates and boosted scores on exams by almost one-half a standard deviation. “The change in the failure rates is whopping,” Freeman says. And the exam improvement—about 6%—could, for example, “bump [a student’s] grades from a B– to a B.”

“This is a really important article—the impression I get is that it’s almost unethical to be lecturing if you have this data,” says Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard University who has campaigned against stale lecturing techniques for 27 years and was not involved in the work. “It’s good to see such a cohesive picture emerge from their meta-analysis—an abundance of proof that lecturing is outmoded, outdated, and inefficient.”

Although there is no single definition of active learning approaches, they include asking students to answer questions by using handheld clickers, calling on individuals or groups randomly, or having students clarify concepts to each other and reach a consensus on an issue.

Freeman says he’s started using such techniques even in large classes. “My introductory biology course has gotten up to 700 students,” he says. “For the ultimate class session—I don’t say lecture—I’m showing PowerPoint slides, but everything is a question and I use clickers and random calling. Somebody droning on for 15 minutes at a time and then doing cookbook labs isn’t interesting.” Freeman estimates that scaling up such active learning approaches could enable success for tens of thousands of students who might otherwise drop or fail STEM courses.

Despite its advantages, active learning isn’t likely to completely kill the lecture, says Noah Finkelstein, a physics professor who directs the Center for STEM Learning at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and was not involved in the study. The new study “is consistent with what the benefits of active learning are showing us,” he says. “But I don’t think there should be a monolithic stance about lecture or no lecture. There are still times when lectures will be needed, but the traditional mode of stand-and-deliver is being demonstrated as less effective at promoting student learning and preparing future teachers.”

The current study didn’t directly address the effectiveness of one new twist in the traditional lecturing format: massive open online courses that can beam talks to thousands or even millions of students. But Freeman says the U.S. Department of Education has conducted its own meta-analysis of distance learning, and it found there was no difference in being lectured at in a classroom versus through a computer screen at home. So, Freeman says: “If you’re going to get lectured at, you might as well be at home in bunny slippers.”

‘We Don’t Want to Die Again’: Yanomami Leader Kopenawa (Indian Country Today Media Network)

Courtesy Survival International. Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami shaman, who has been fighting for his peoples rights for more than 20 years will be in California in April to speak about protecting the rainforest and his spiritual life. Kopenawa is seen here surrounded by Yanomami children.

5/16/14

“It’s very important to talk to everybody here. We don’t want what happened 500 years ago to happen again. We, the Yanomami people, don’t want to die again,” said Davi Kopenawa in an interview with ICTMN at the end of April.

Kopenawa, an internationally known advocate for the Yanomami people of Brazil and the rainforest, was in San Francisco at the end of April to meet with activists, scholars and political officials to alert them to an escalating crisis involving gold miners in Yanomami territory and to speak about his book “The Falling Sky.”

For the interview on April 25th, Kopenawa sat down with ICTMN along with his interpreter and friend, Fiona Watson, Research Director for Survival Internationaland longtime ally of the Yanomami and other indigenous peoples of Brazil.

During the 35 minute conversation Kopenawa began by asserting how dangerous the gold mining operations have been for the people and the environment in their territory.

“The gold miners are people with lots of vices. They bring alcohol, they bring illnesses. They couldn’t find jobs in the cities and got no help from the government and the only thing they want to do is get gold from Indigenous Peoples territories. They have spread all over our land.

“The gold miners (garimpeiros) only work in the rivers,” he explained. “They use mercury to clean and separate the gold from the sand. When they wash the gold with mercury, the mercury sinks to the bottom of the river bed. The communities who live downstream use this water for drinking, washing and bathing. The fish also swallow mercury when they are eating which in turn affects the people who eat the fish. So the Yanomami get ill from mercury poisoning. That’s how the mercury contaminates our place.”

Kopenawa also emphasized that there are laws currently being proposed in Brazil that would make it easier for miners and others to invade indigenous territories. Watson noted that the indigenous communities and their allies such as SI are very worried about three potential laws in particular: PEC 215 is a constitutional amendment that would allow congress, which has members influenced by a strong anti-indigenous lobby, to be involved with demarcation of land; Portaria 303 which would prohibit extending any indigenous territory and that indigenous rights to use their resources would not extend to preventing large scale hydro-electric and mining projects; and Law Project 1610 would open up all indigenous territories to large scale mining (and there were already hundreds of petitions to start mining in Yanomani territory).

“I will talk about these things,” Kopenawa said in regards to his then upcoming presentations (he later spoke with California Governor Jerry Brown about the mining issues).

“I want to talk about the concerns of the Yanomami people. We are beginning to get nervous and sad because the government is preparing to invade our territory even though it is demarcated and recognized by law.”

He stated that his book, “The Falling Sky,” explains those concerns and how the Yanomami are guardians of their region of the earth.

“It is important to explain this to the city people who know about their land and mountains and places but we Yanomami needed a book to explain things to white people so they would know our story. We are guardians of the knowledge of our region of earth, of the mountains and the rivers. For us, the forest is a thing of great beauty and it is our story. Some white people think that the Yanomami know nothing, so for this reason I thought about writing a book about the traditional knowledge of the Yanomami, my people.”

At the end of the interview, Kopenawa re-iterated his principal message to the people of the United States.

“All we Indigenous Peoples in Brazil are very worried because of the project to mine in the Yanomami’s territory and in the territories of other indigenous brothers and sisters. We Yanomami people don’t want mining because we don’t want to suffer and die of the white peoples’ diseases. Mining will not bring positive benefits to the Indigenous Peoples. It will only bring a lot of diseases and problems and fights with the indigenous people. For this reason all we Indigenous Peoples are against mining.

“I, Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, an indigenous leader, ask for support from the American people not to allow mining to start in the Yanomami territory. I would like you to help to defend the lungs of the earth. I thank you for your strength. Thank you very much.”

Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/16/yanomami-leader-kopenawa-we-dont-want-die-again-154849

From Amazon to Garden State (CBS)

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/from-amazon-to-garden-state

MAY 11, 2014, 9:53 AM|David Good’s mother grew up in a remote village in the Amazon jungle. After meeting an American anthropologist, she moved to New Jersey and started a family. After she decided to return to her village, her son made an extraordinary trip to reconnect with her. Steve Hartman reports.

Wyoming is 1st state to reject science standards (AP)

By BOB MOEN

May 8, 2014 6:24 PM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming, the nation’s top coal-producing state, is the first to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components.

The Wyoming Board of Education decided recently that the Next Generation Science Standards need more review after questions were raised about the treatment of man-made global warming.

Board President Ron Micheli said the review will look into whether “we can’t get some standards that are Wyoming standards and standards we all can be proud of.”

Others see the decision as a blow to science education in Wyoming.

“The science standards are acknowledged to be the best to prepare our kids for the future, and they are evidence based, peer reviewed, etc. Why would we want anything less for Wyoming?” Marguerite Herman, a proponent of the standards, said.

Twelve states have adopted the standards since they were released in April 2013 with the goal of improving science education, and Wyoming is the first to reject them, Chad Colby, spokesman for Achieve, one of the organizations that helped write the standards.

“The standards are what students should be expected to know at the end of each grade, but how a teacher teaches them is still up to the local districts and the states, and even the teachers in most cases,” Colby said.

But the global warming and evolution components have created pushback around the country.

Amy Edmonds, of the Wyoming Liberty Group, said teaching “one view of what is not settled science about global warming” is just one of a number of problems with the standards.

“I think Wyoming can do far better,” Edmonds said.

Wyoming produces almost 40 percent of the nation’s coal, with much of it used by power plants to provide electricity around the nation. Minerals taxes on coal provided $1 billion to the state and local governments in 2012 and coal mining supports some 6,900 jobs in the state.

Burning coal to generate electricity produces large amounts of CO2, which is considered a heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. Most scientists recognize that man-made CO2 emissions contribute to global warming. However, the degree to which it can be blamed for global warming is in dispute among some scientists.

Gov. Matt Mead has called federal efforts to curtail greenhouse emissions a “war on coal” and has said that he’s skeptical about man-made climate change.

This past winter, state lawmakers approved budget wording that sought to stop adoption of the standards.

“Wyoming is certainly unique in having legislators and the governor making comments about perceived impacts on the fossil fuel industry of kids learning climate science, and unique in acting on that one objection to prohibit consideration of the package of standards, of which climate science is a small component,” said John Friedrich, a member of the national organization Climate Parents, which supports the standards.

Friedrich and Colby noted that oil and gas industry giants Exxon Mobile and Chevron support the standards.

Opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn’t be taught in a state that derives much of its school funding from the energy industry.

“I think those concepts should be taught in science; I just think they should be taught as theory and not as scientific fact,” state Rep. Matt Teeters, R-Lingle, said.

Paul Bruno, an eighth-grade California science teacher who reviewed the standards for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, said the climate-change components can cause confusion because they are difficult to navigate.

The Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, gave the standards a “C” grade.

While the standards overall are “mediocre,” Bruno said they are being “a little bit unfairly impugned on more controversial topics like climate change or evolution.”

The standards for high school assert that models predict human activity is contributing to climate change, but leave an “appropriate amount of uncertainty” and note that it’s important to factor in costs, reliability and other issues when considering global warming solutions, he said.

“And so I think it’s fair to say that the Next Generation Standards at least make gestures in the direction of wanting to accommodate those potentially skeptical viewpoints, particularly when it comes to things like energy production,” Bruno said.

CPTEC/INPE desenvolve novo conceito de sistema de previsão, monitoramento e de alertas para ondas e ressacas (CPTEC)

Atualizado em 15/05/2014 13:54

Sistema também pode ser utilizado para avaliar impactos ambientais em regiões costeiras

O grupo do CPTEC/INPE dedicado à previsão de agitação marítima lançou há dois anos em sua página de previsão de ondas a primeira fase do Sistema de Previsão e Monitoramento Costeiro (SIMCos) para 61 pontos da costa brasileira (link no canto superior direito da página http://ondas.cptec.inpe.br/). A segunda fase deste projeto foi concluída recentemente, colocando em operação um sistema de avaliação de impactos de ondas e marés, de alta resolução, para um daqueles 61 pontos do litoral brasileiro: a Baia de Vitória, no Espírito Santo. Esta região do litoral capixaba foi escolhida como área teste para avaliar o funcionamento completo do SIMCos (Sistema de Previsão e Monitoramento Costeiro), concebido para disparar um segundo sistema, como este voltado à Baia de Vitória, quando houver previsões de ondas ultrapassando limites que envolvam riscos ambientais e às atividades na costa.

O SIMCos, projeto temático da FAPESP, gera previsões diárias de ondas, indicando situações de risco ao comparar os níveis de ondas de cada um dos cerca de 60 pontos da costa brasileira a uma climatologia de 30 anos (condições atmosféricas de resolução espacial de 0,3 grau e temporal de 1 hora) da agitação marítima destes mesmos pontos. Para a baía capixaba, que abrange a ilha de Vitória, região metropolitana e os portos de Tubarão e Vitória, foram desenvolvidos modelos com o objetivo de monitorar e avaliar os possíveis impactos, através de simulações numéricas de ondas, de circulação, das marés astronômicas e meteorológicas, com alta resolução temporal e espacial, e capaz, se necessário, de emitir alertas de ressacas.

A plataforma do SIMCos foi composta pelo modelo WWATCH, do NCEP/NOAA, cujas previsões são rodadas em um computador de 120 processadores, obtido exclusivamente para o projeto. Segundo o pesquisador responsável pelo desenvolvimento do SIMCos, Valdir Innocentini, os 61 pontos de previsão e monitoramento ao longo da costa brasileira estão distantes entre si de 100 a 200 quilômetros, e se situam sobre uma linha de profundidade de 100 metros, aproximadamente, para que os efeitos do relevo oceânico não interfiram muito nas características das ondas. Já para o sistema desenvolvido para o litoral capixaba, foi utilizado o modelo holandês de circulação costeira e marés DELFT3D, com condições atmosféricas simuladas pelo modelo WRF (Weather Research Forecasting Model), dos Estados Unidos, e condições iniciais e de contorno hidrodinâmicas do modelo francês global Mercator.

O sistema implementado na Baía de Vitória permite simular e avaliar impactos relacionados à vazão de rios, circulação e interação de água doce e oceânica, erosão, dispersão e transporte de sedimentos e poluentes (como manchas de petróleo), entre outras aplicações. Também simula os efeitos das marés para obras de dragagem, construção de obras civis, como ampliação de portos, prevendo áreas de assoreamento e de possíveis danos ambientais. O desenvolvimento deste módulo do SIMCos contou com a cooperação da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES) e Universidade Nacional Autonoma do México (UNAM).

Segundo Innocentini, o desenvolvimento do SIMCos, alcançou seu objetivo, que era viabilizar um conceito de sistema de alerta, com potencial para ser lançado operacionalmente cobrindo toda a costa brasileira. Para implementar o sistema completo, o pesquisador do CPTEC/INPE explica que seria necessário um novo projeto que permitisse colocar em operação os modelos de alta resolução para cada uma das regiões associadas aos 60 pontos restantes do SIMCos. Para tal empreitada, seria preciso desenhar a grade do relevo submerso de cada uma destas regiões costeiras, com base na batimetria destas áreas.

O desenvolvimento destes modelos de maior resolução – melhor precisão e refinamento para boa parte da costa brasileira – permitiria a simulação de impactos dos movimentos de marés e ressacas nas diferentes atividades econômicas costeiras, como extração de petróleo, turismo e náutica. Os modelos também teriam aplicações em pesquisas ambientais, com possíveis aplicações na área de mudanças climáticas, além de atuarem como uma poderosa ferramenta de monitoramento ambiental capaz de oferecer subsídios a ações fiscais na costa e à formulação de políticas ambientais.

 

Latinos in the U.S. have a strong belief in the spirit world (Pew Research Center)

MAY 15, 2014

BY 

A majority of American Catholics see Pope Francis as a major change for the Catholic Church. But in one area, Francis may be the most traditional pope in a generation: He has “not only dwelled far more on Satan in sermons and speeches than his recent predecessors have,” according to a recent Washington Post article, “but also sought to rekindle the Devil’s image as a supernatural entity with the forces of evil at his beck and call.”

Francis is the first pope from Latin America, where “mystical views of Satan still hold sway in broad areas of the region,” according to the Post. Last week, Catholics from 33 countries gathered in Vatican City for a conference on exorcism. The Post estimated the number of “official exorcists” to be between 500 and 600, “the vast majority operating in Latin America and Eastern Europe.”

While we do not have data on how many Americans overall believe in the presence of spirits, a recent Pew Research survey found widespread belief in this among Latinos in the United States. More than half (57%) said that people can be possessed by spirits, and 44% said magic, sorcery or witchcraft can influence people’s lives.

In our survey, about one-in-eight Hispanic Catholics in the U.S. (12%) said they have witnessed an exorcism. Even more Hispanic Protestants (37%) – including 59% of Pentecostals – said they have seen “the devil or evil spirits being driven out of a person.”

Varying percentages of U.S. Hispanics also hold other spiritual beliefs, which in some cases may reflect a mix of Christian and indigenous or Afro-Caribbean influences.

Roughly four-in-ten U.S. Hispanics (39%), including a similar share of Hispanic Catholics, said they believe in the “evil eye,” or that certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen. A smaller share (15%) said they have had witchcraft or black magic practiced on them or someone close to them.

Jardim Botânico do Rio lança livro de plantas medicinais em tribo no Acre (EFE)

sáb, 17 de mai de 2014

Janaína Quinet.

Rio de Janeiro, 17 mai (EFE).- O Instituto de Pesquisa do Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro (IJBRJ) e a Editora Dantes lançaram nesta semana o livro “Una Isi Kayawa, Livro da Cura”, que documenta o conhecimento medicinal do povo Huni Kuin do Rio Jordão, no Acre.

O trabalho que durou cerca de dois anos e meio foi realizado através de pesquisas e oficinas com os pajés das 33 aldeias das três terras indígenas Kaxinawá, que, que se estendem pelo Rio Jordão.

Comandado pelo pesquisador do JBRJ, Alexandre Quinet, e com o apoio do Coordenador do Centro Nacional da Conservação da Flora Brasileira do Instituto de Pesquisa do Jardim Botânico, Gustavo Martinelli, o livro conta com 109 espécies de plantas com a descrição de seus usos medicinais em português e em “hatxa kuin”, língua falada na tribo.

A identificação do material botânico foi feita com a colaboração de 21 taxonomistas de instituições brasileiras e internacionais. A obra apresenta, além do conhecimento científico das plantas, a cultura do povo Huni Kuin por meio de relatos e desenhos, desde seus hábitos alimentares e artesanato como também as suas concepções espirituais.

Por conta do lançamento, foi organizada na Aldeia São Joaquim uma grande festa, reunindo a maior parte dos pajés das 33 aldeias, que realizaram seus rituais com a “nixi pae” (ayhausca) e rapé de tabaco. Todos vestiram suas roupas tradicionais, enfeitaram-se com seus cocares e, com urucum e jenipapo, desenharam em seus corpos os “kenes”, representações gráficas de conceitos sagrados.

Durante a entrega dos livros aos pajés de cada aldeia, Quinet declarou que o livro “é um registro fiel do que foi dito pelos pajés.

“Esse foi um processo todo participativo. Nós fomos apenas os costureiros. Essas palavras são de vocês, vocês são os autores e protagonistas deste livro feito por vocês e para vocês”, disse.

Já Martinelli afirmou que o acolhimento que o povo lhe proporcionou foi o melhor que ele recebeu em todas as suas viagens.

“Desde a primeira vez que eu vim aqui, nunca tinha me sentido tão bem acolhido. As pessoas estavam aqui me saudando, e nunca vou esquecer esse momento. Por isso eu quis retribuir, colaborando ao máximo para concretização desse projeto”, explicou.

Anna Dantes, que editou o livro acompanhando sua realização desde as oficinas, coordenando a tradução dos textos em “hatxa kuin” e selecionando com eles os desenhos, exaltou a iniciativa.

“Trabalho com a edição de livros há mais de 20 anos, para mim isso é pegar um sonho e fazer com que ele alcance outras pessoas. O livro vai durar mais tempo que a gente, o livro fica na história”, argumentou.

Ela ainda explicou que, para apresentar um conteúdo tão rico, foi criada uma fonte tipográfica a partir das letras manuscritas em cadernos, placas dos parques e quadros negros.

A fonte foi usada para a escrita do “hatxa kuin” e para todas as informações de autoria Huni Kuin no livro. Além disso, o papel utilizado na impressão é resistente e pode ser molhado, já que é feito de garrafas de plástico recicladas. O objetivo é que ele possa resistir às condições úmidas e permeáveis da floresta.

A realização deste livro é a concretização do sonho do pajé Agostinho Manduca Mateus Inka Muru.

Durante 20 anos, ele realizou a missão de reunir seu povo que estava disperso, de resgatar sua cultura, com seus cânticos, rituais, pinturas, tecelagem, desenhos, alimentos, histórias e lendas. Ele desejava perpetuar todo esse conhecimento em um livro, “como os brancos”, dizia ele, para que os mais jovens não esquecessem e pudessem passar adiante as tradições e a cultura Huni Kuin.

Dias após a realização da última oficina, tendo encaminhado sua missão de transmissão de conhecimento, enquanto terminava suas recomendações para o livro, o Pajé Ika Muru morreu nos braços de seus filhos. EFE

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Collapsing (Science)

12 May 2014 6:15 pm

Linchpin. Thwaites Glacier (shown) in West Antarctica is connected with its neighbors in ways that threaten a wholesale collapse if it recedes too far inland.

NASA. Linchpin. Thwaites Glacier (shown) in West Antarctica is connected with its neighbors in ways that threaten a wholesale collapse if it recedes too far inland.

A disaster may be unfolding—in slow motion. Earlier this week, two teams of scientists reported that the Thwaites Glacier, a keystone holding the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet together, is starting to collapse. In the long run, they say, the entire ice sheet is doomed, which would release enough meltwater to raise sea levels by more than 3 meters.

One team combined data on the recent retreat of the 182,000-square-kilometer Thwaites Glacier with a model of the glacier’s dynamics to forecast its future. In a paper published online today in Science, they report that in as few as 2 centuries Thwaites Glacier’s outermost edge will recede past an underwater ridge now stalling its retreat. Their modeling suggests that the glacier will then cascade into rapid collapse. The second team, writing in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), describes recent radar mapping of West Antarctica’s glaciers and confirms that the 600-meter-deep ridge is the final obstacle before the bedrock underlying the glacier dips into a deep basin.

Because inland basins connect Thwaites Glacier to other major glaciers in the region, both research teams say its collapse would flood West Antarctica with seawater, prompting a near-complete loss of ice in the area. “The next stable state for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet might be no ice sheet at all,” says the Science paper’s lead author, glaciologist Ian Joughin of the University of Washington (UW), Seattle.

“Very crudely, we are now committed to global sea level rise equivalent to a permanent Hurricane Sandy storm surge,” says glaciologist Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, referring to the storm that ravaged the Caribbean and the U.S. East Coast in 2012. Alley was not involved in either study.

Where Thwaites Glacier meets the Amundsen Sea, deep warm water burrows under the ice sheet’s base, forming an ice shelf from which icebergs break off. When melt and iceberg creation outpace fresh snowfall farther inland, the glacier shrinks. According to the radar mapping released today in GRL from the European Remote Sensing satellite, from 1992 to 2011 the Thwaites Glacier retreated 14 kilometers at its core. “Nowhere else in Antarctica is changing this fast,” says UW Seattle glaciologist Benjamin Smith, co-author of the Sciencepaper.

To forecast Thwaites Glacier’s fate, the team plugged satellite and aircraft radar maps of the glacier’s ice and underlying bedrock into a computer model. In simulations that assumed various melting trends, the model accurately reproduced recent ice-loss measurements and churned out a disturbing result: In all but the most conservative melt scenarios, a glacial collapse has already started and will accelerate rapidly once the glacier’s “grounding line”—the point at which the ice begins to float—retreats past the ridge.

At that point, the glacier’s face will become taller and, like a towering sand pile, more prone to collapse. The retreat will then accelerate to more than 5 kilometers per year, the team says. “On a glacial timescale, 200 to 500 years is the blink of an eye,” Joughin says.

And once Thwaites is gone, the rest of West Antarctica would be at risk.

Eric Rignot, a climate scientist at the University of California, Irvine, and the lead author of theGRL radar mapping study, is skeptical of Joughin’s timeline because the computer model used estimates of future melting rates instead of calculations based on physical processes such as changing sea temperatures. “These simulations ought to go to the next stage and include realistic ocean forcing,” he says. If they do, he says, they might predict an even more rapid retreat.

Antarctic history confirms the danger, Alley says: Core samples drilled into the inland basins that connect Thwaites Glacier with its neighbors have revealed algae preserved beneath the ice sheet, a hint that seawater has filled the basins within the past 750,000 years. That past flooding shows that modest climate warming can cause the entire ice sheet to collapse. “The possibility that we have already committed to 3 or more meters of sea level rise from West Antarctica will be disquieting to many people, even if the rise waits centuries before arriving.”

CONCLIMA 2013 – acesse vídeos de todas as palestras (Rede Clima)

CONCLIMA 2013 – acesse vídeos de todas as palestras

imagem video conclimaEstão disponíveis na Internet os vídeos de todas as apresentações realizadas durante a 1ª CONCLIMA – Conferência Nacional da Rede CLIMA, INCT para Mudanças Climáticas (INCT-MC) e Programa Fapesp de Pesquisas sobre Mudanças Climáticas Globais (PFPMCG), realizada de 9 a 13 de setembro em São Paulo. A Rede CLIMA também produziu uma síntese de toda a conferência, com duração de 30 minutos.

O objetivo da CONCLIMA foi apresentar os resultados das pesquisas e o conhecimento gerado por esses importantes programas e projetos – um ambicioso empreendimento científico criado pelos governos federal e do Estado de São Paulo para prover informações de alta qualidade em estudos de clima, detecção de variabilidade climática e mudança climática, e seus impactos em setores chaves do Brasil.

Acesse os vídeos:

Vídeo da CONCLIMA – 1a Conferência Nacional de Mudanças Climáticas Globais:

Apresentações – arquivos PDF

Íntegra das apresentações – VÍDEOS

Mesa de Abertura

MODELO BRASILEIRO DO SISTEMA TERRESTRE

Paulo Nobre – INPE

Iracema Cavalcanti – INPE

Léo Siqueira – INPE

Marcos Heil Costa – UFV

Sérgio Correa – UERJ

PAINEL BRASILEIRO DE MUDANÇAS CLIMÁTICAS

Tércio Ambrizzi – USP 

Eduardo Assad – Embrapa

Mercedes Bustamante – UnB

REDE CLIMA

Agricultura – Hilton Silveira Pinto – Embrapa

Recursos Hídricos – Alfredo Ribeiro Neto – UFPE

Energias Renováveis – Marcos Freitas – COPPE/UFRJ

Biodiversidade e Ecossistemas – Alexandre Aleixo – MPEG

Desastres Naturais – Regina Rodrigues – UFSC 

Zonas Costeiras – Carlos Garcia – FURG

Urbanização e Cidades – Roberto do Carmo – Unicamp

Economia – Eduardo Haddad – USP

Saúde – Sandra Hacon – Fiocruz

Desenvolvimento Regional – Saulo Rodrigues Filho – UnB

INCT PARA MUDANÇAS CLIMÁTICAS

O INCT para Mudanças Climáticas – José Marengo – INPE

Detecção e atribuição e variabilidade natural do clima – Simone Ferraz – UFSM

Mudanças no uso da terra – Ana Paula Aguiar – INPE

Ciclos Biogeoquímicos Globais e Biodiversidade – Mercedes Bustamante – UnB

Oceanos – Regina Rodrigues – UFSC

REDD – Osvaldo Stella – IPAM

Cenários Climáticos Futuros e Redução de Incertezas – José Marengo – INPE

Gases de Efeito Estufa – Plínio Alvalá – INPE

Estudos de ciência, tecnologia e políticas públicas – Myanna Lahsen – INPE

Interações biosfera-atmosfera – Gilvan Sampaio – INPE

Amazônia – Gilberto Fisch – IAE/DCTA

PROGRAMA FAPESP MUDANÇAS CLIMÁTICAS

Sistema de Alerta Precoce para Doenças Infecciosas Emergentes na Amazônia Ocidental – Manuel Cesario – Unifran

Clima e população em uma região de tensão entre alta taxa de urbanização e alta biodiversidade: Dimensões sociais e ecológicas das mudanças climáticas – Lucia da Costa Ferreira – Unicamp

Cenários de impactos das mudanças climáticas na produção de álcool visando a definição de políticas públicas – Jurandir Zullo – Unicamp

Fluxos hidrológicos e fluxos de carbono – casos da Bacia Amazônica e reflorestamento de microbacias – Humberto Rocha – USP

O papel dos rios no balanço regional do carbono – Maria Victoria Ballester – USP

Aerossóis atmosféricos, balanço de radiação, nuvens e gases traços associados com mudanças de uso de solo na Amazônia – Paulo Artaxo – USP

Socio-economic impacts of climate change in Brazil: quantitative inputs for the design of public policies – Joaquim José Martins Guilhoto e Rafael Feltran Barbieri- USP

Emissão de dióxido de carbono em solos de áreas de cana-de-açúcar sob diferentes estratégias de manejo – Newton La Scala Jr – Unesp

Impacto do Oceano Atlantico Sudoeste no Clima da America do Sul ao longo dos séculos 20 e 21 – Tércio Ambrizzi – USP

MESA REDONDA: C,T&I EM MUDANÇAS GLOBAIS COMO APOIO ÀS POLÍTICAS PÚBLICAS 

Apresentação Sergio Margulis – SAE – Presidência da República

Apresentação Gustavo Luedemann (MCTI)

Apresentação Carlos Klink (SMCQ/MMA)

Apresentação Couto Silva (MMA): Ambiente sobre o status da Elaboração do Plano Nacional de Adaptação. Funcionamento do GT Adaptação e suas redes temáticas. Proposta de Calendário. Proposta de Estrutura do Plano. 

Apresentação Alexandre Gross (FGV): Recortes temáticos do Plano Nacional de Adaptação: apresentação do Relatório sobre dimensões temporal, espacial e temática na adaptação às mudanças climáticas (Produto 4), processo e resultados do GT Adaptação, coleta de contribuições e discussão.

Mesa redonda: Mudanças climáticas, extremos e desastres naturais 

Apresentação Rafael Schadeck – CENAD 

Apresentação Marcos Airton de Sousa Freitas – ANA 

Mesa redonda: Relação ciência – planos setoriais; políticas públicas

Apresentação Carlos Nobre – SEPED/MCTI

Apresentação Luiz Pinguelli Rosa (COPPE UFRJ, FBMC)

Apresentação Eduardo Viola – UnB

Mesa redonda: Inventários e monitoramento das emissões e remoções de GEE 

Apresentação Gustavo Luedemann – MCTI 

CONFERÊNCIAS SOBRE A VISÃO DA PRODUÇÃO DO CONHECIMENTO: DETECÇÃO, MITIGAÇÃO, IMPACTOS, VULNERABILIDADE, ADAPTAÇÃO, INOVAÇÃO

Apresentação Patrícia Pinho – IGBP/INPE

Apresentação Paulo Artaxo – USP

Umbanda e candomblé não são religiões, diz juiz federal (FSP)

FABIO BRISOLLA

DO RIO

16/05/2014 19h34

Uma tentativa do Ministério Público Federal (MPF) de retirar do Youtube uma série de vídeos com ofensas à umbanda e ao candomblé resultou em uma decisão polêmica: a Justiça optou por manter a exibição das imagens e ainda salientou que “as manifestações religiosas afro-brasileiras” não podem ser classificadas como religião.

Em decisão de 28 de abril de 2014, o juiz Eugênio Rosa de Araújo, titular da 17ª Vara Federal, afirmou que as crenças afro-brasileiras “não contêm os traços necessários de uma religião”. De acordo com o magistrado, as características essenciais a uma religião seriam a existência de um texto base (como a Bíblia ou Alcorão), de uma estrutura hierárquica e de um Deus a ser venerado.

“Se o Juiz tivesse simplesmente negado que havia ofensa nos vídeos já seria uma decisão lamentável. Mas ele foi além. Em poucas linhas, resolveu ditar o que seria ou não uma religião, o que nos pareceu um absurdo”, disse à Folha o procurador Jaime Mitropoulos, que apresentou um recurso contra a decisão da 17ª Vara Federal.

Procurado pela Folha, o juiz Eugênio Rosa de Araújo preferiu não falar sobre a decisão.

Nos vídeos denunciados pelo MPF, pastores evangélicos associam praticantes de umbanda a uma legião de demônios. Também fazem comparação semelhante com o culto aos orixás característico do Candomblé.

A ação do MPF teve origem em uma denúncia da Associação Nacional de Mídia Afro, que pedia a exclusão dos vídeos citados do Youtube pelas ofensas disseminadas contra as religiões com raízes africanas.

No início de 2014, o MPF chegou a recomendar que a representação do Google no Brasil deletasse os vídeos. Entretanto, segundo a Procuradoria, a empresa se negou a atender a orientação. A partir daí, o caso foi encaminhado à Justiça.

Are We Bothered? (Monbiot)

May 16, 2014

The more we consume, the less we care about the living planet.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 9th May 2014

That didn’t take long. The public interest in the state of the natural world stimulated by the winter floods receded almost as quickly as the waters did. A YouGov poll showed that the number of respondents placing the environment among their top three issues of concern rose from 6% in mid-January to 23% in mid-February. By early April – though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had just published two massive and horrifying reports – the proportion had fallen back to 11%.

CarbonBrief has plotted the results on this graph:

public response to floods

Sustaining interest in this great but slow-burning crisis is a challenge no one seems to have mastered. Only when the crisis causes or exacerbates an acute disaster – such as the floods – is there a flicker of anxiety, but that quickly dies away.

Why is it so difficult to persuade people to care about our wonderful planet, the world that gave rise to us and upon which we wholly depend? And why do you encounter a barrage of hostility and denial whenever you attempt it (and not only from the professional liars who are paid by coal and oil and timber companies to sow confusion and channel hatred)?

The first thing to note, in trying to answer this question, is that the rich anglophone countries are anomalous. In this bar chart (copied from the website of the New York Times) you can see how atypical the attitudes of people in the US and the UK are. Because almost everything we read in this country is published in rich, English-speaking nations, we might get the false impression that the world doesn’t care very much.

bar chart from New York Times

This belief is likely to be reinforced by the cherished notion that we lead the world in knowledge, sophistication and compassion. The bar chart puts me in mind of the famous quote perhaps mistakenly attributed to Gandhi. When asked by a journalist during a visit to Britain, “What do you think of Western civilization?”, he’s reputed to have replied, “I think it would be a good idea.”

Our erroneous belief that we are more concerned about manmade climate change than the people of other nations informs the sentiment, often voiced by the press and politicians, that there’s no point in acting if the rest of the world won’t play its part. For example, last year the Chancellor, George Osborne, remarked:

“I don’t want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world. I certainly think we shouldn’t be further ahead of our partners in Europe.”

But we’re not “the only people out there in front of the rest of the world.” In fact we’re not in front at all. As this map produced by Oxford University’s Smith School suggests, we are some way behind not only some other rich nations but also a number of countries much poorer than ours.

mapping climate change commitments

As for the US, Australia and Canada, they are ranked among the worst of all: comprehensively failing to limit their massive contribution to a global problem. We justify our foot-dragging with a mistaken premise. Our refusal to stop pumping so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is pure selfishness.

Both the map and the bar chart overlap to some degree with the fascinating results of the Greendex survey of consumer attitudes.

For years we’ve been told that people cannot afford to care about the natural world until they become rich; that only economic growth can save the biosphere, that civilisation marches towards enlightenment about our impacts on the living planet. The results suggest the opposite.

As you can see from the following graph, the people consulted in poorer countries feel, on average, much guiltier about their impacts on the natural world than people in rich countries, even though those impacts tend to be smaller. Of the nations surveyed, the people of Germany, the US, Australia and Britain feel the least consumer guilt; the people of India, China, Mexico and Brazil the most.

Greendex graph

The more we consume, the less we feel. And maybe that doesn’t just apply to guilt.

Perhaps that’s the point of our otherwise-pointless hyperconsumption: it smothers feeling. It might also be the effect of the constant bombardment of advertising and marketing. They seek to replace our attachments to people and place with attachments to objects: attachments which the next round of advertising then breaks in the hope of attaching us to a different set of objects.

The richer we are and the more we consume, the more self-centred and careless of the lives of others we appear to become. Even if you somehow put aside the direct, physical impacts of rising consumption, it’s hard to understand how anyone could imagine that economic growth is a formula for protecting the planet.

So what we seem to see here is the turning of a vicious circle. The more harm we do, the less concerned about it we become. And the more hyperconsumerism destroys relationships, communities and the physical fabric of the Earth, the more we try to fill the void in our lives by buying more stuff.

All this is accompanied in the rich anglophone nations with the extreme neoliberalism promoted by both press and politicians, and a great concentration of power in the hands of the financial and fossil fuel sectors, which lobby hard, in the public sphere and in private, to prevent change.

So the perennially low level of concern, which flickers upwards momentarily when disaster strikes, then slumps back into the customary stupor, is an almost inevitable result of a society that has become restructured around shopping, fashion, celebrity and an obsession with money. How we break the circle and wake people out of this dreamworld is the question that all those who love the living planet should address. There will be no easy answers.

John Oliver Does Science Communication Right (I Fucking Love Science)

May 15, 2014 | by Stephen Luntz

photo credit: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO). Satirist John Oliver shows how scientific pseudo-debates should be covered

One of the most frustrating experiences scientists, science communicators and anyone who cares about science have is the sight of media outlets giving equal time to positions held by a tiny minority of researchers.

This sort of behavior turns up for all sorts of concocted “controversies”, satirized as “Opinions differ on the Shape of the Earth”. However, the most egregious examples occur in reporting climate change. Thousands of carefully researched peer reviewed papers are weighed in the balance and judged equal to a handful of shoddily writtennumerically flaky publications whose flaws take less than a day  to come to light.

That is, of course, if you ignore the places where the anti-science side pretty much gets free range.

So it is a delight to see John Oliver show how it should be done.
We have only one problem with Oliver’s work. He repeats the claim that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are warming the planet. In fact the study he referred to has 97.1% of peer reviewed papers on climate change endorsing this position. However, these papers were usually produced by large research teams, while the opposing minority were often cooked up by a couple of kooks in their garage. When you look at the numbers of scientists involved the numbers are actually 98.4% to 1.2%, with the rest undecided. Which might not sound like a big difference, but would make Oliver’s tame “skeptic” look even more lonely.
HT Vox, with a nice summary of the evidence


Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/environment/john-oliver-does-science-communication-right#9A4CD6abdJTOOMHK.99

Crazy Climate Economics (New York Times)

MAY 11, 2014

Paul Krugman

Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t — but conservatives do. If you so much as mention income inequality, you’ll be denounced as the second coming of Joseph Stalin; Rick Santorum has declared that any use of the word “class” is “Marxism talk.” In the right’s eyes, sinister motives lurk everywhere — for example, George Will says the only reason progressives favor trains is their goal of “diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”

So it goes without saying that Obamacare, based on ideas originally developed at the Heritage Foundation, is a Marxist scheme — why, requiring that people purchase insurance is practically the same as sending them to gulags.

And just wait until the Environmental Protection Agency announces rules intended to slow the pace of climate change.

Until now, the right’s climate craziness has mainly been focused on attacking the science. And it has been quite a spectacle: At this point almost all card-carrying conservatives endorse the view that climate change is a gigantic hoax, that thousands of research papers showing a warming planet — 97 percent of the literature — are the product of a vast international conspiracy. But as the Obama administration moves toward actually doing something based on that science, crazy climate economics will come into its own.

You can already get a taste of what’s coming in the dissenting opinions from a recent Supreme Court ruling on power-plant pollution. A majority of the justices agreed that the E.P.A. has the right to regulate smog from coal-fired power plants, which drifts across state lines. But Justice Scalia didn’t just dissent; he suggested that the E.P.A.’s proposed rule — which would tie the size of required smog reductions to cost — reflected the Marxist concept of “from each according to his ability.” Taking cost into consideration is Marxist? Who knew?

And you can just imagine what will happen when the E.P.A., buoyed by the smog ruling, moves on to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

What do I mean by crazy climate economics?

First, we’ll see any effort to limit pollution denounced as a tyrannical act. Pollution wasn’t always a deeply partisan issue: Economists in the George W. Bush administration wrote paeans to “market based” pollution controls, and in 2008 John McCain made proposals for cap-and-trade limits on greenhouse gases part of his presidential campaign. But when House Democrats actually passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, it was attacked as, you guessed it, Marxist. And these days Republicans come out in force to oppose even the most obviously needed regulations, like the plan to reduce the pollution that’s killing Chesapeake Bay.

Second, we’ll see claims that any effort to limit emissions will have what Senator Marco Rubio is already calling “a devastating impact on our economy.”

Why is this crazy? Normally, conservatives extol the magic of markets and the adaptability of the private sector, which is supposedly able to transcend with ease any constraints posed by, say, limited supplies of natural resources. But as soon as anyone proposes adding a few limits to reflect environmental issues — such as a cap on carbon emissions — those all-capable corporations supposedly lose any ability to cope with change.

Now, the rules the E.P.A. is likely to impose won’t give the private sector as much flexibility as it would have had in dealing with an economywide carbon cap or emissions tax. But Republicans have only themselves to blame: Their scorched-earth opposition to any kind of climate policy has left executive action by the White House as the only route forward.

Furthermore, it turns out that focusing climate policy on coal-fired power plants isn’t bad as a first step. Such plants aren’t the only source of greenhouse gas emissions, but they’re a large part of the problem — and the best estimates we have of the path forward suggest that reducing power-plant emissions will be a large part of any solution.

What about the argument that unilateral U.S. action won’t work, because China is the real problem? It’s true that we’re no longer No. 1 in greenhouse gases — but we’re still a strong No. 2. Furthermore, U.S. action on climate is a necessary first step toward a broader international agreement, which will surely include sanctions on countries that don’t participate.

So the coming firestorm over new power-plant regulations won’t be a genuine debate — just as there isn’t a genuine debate about climate science. Instead, the airwaves will be filled with conspiracy theories and wild claims about costs, all of which should be ignored. Climate policy may finally be getting somewhere; let’s not let crazy climate economics get in the way.

Why We’re in a New Gilded Age (The New York Review of Books)

Paul Krugman

MAY 8, 2014 ISSUE

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Piketty, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer
Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 685 pp., $39.95

 

krugman_1-050814

Thomas Piketty in his office at the Paris School of Economics, 2013. Emmanuelle Marchadour

Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn’t a household name, although that may change with the English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age—or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle Époque—defined by the incredible rise of the “one percent.” But it has only become a commonplace thanks to Piketty’s work. In particular, he and a few colleagues (notably Anthony Atkinson at Oxford and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley) have pioneered statistical techniques that make it possible to track the concentration of income and wealth deep into the past—back to the early twentieth century for America and Britain, and all the way to the late eighteenth century for France.

The result has been a revolution in our understanding of long-term trends in inequality. Before this revolution, most discussions of economic disparity more or less ignored the very rich. Some economists (not to mention politicians) tried to shout down any mention of inequality at all: “Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution,” declared Robert Lucas Jr. of the University of Chicago, the most influential macroeconomist of his generation, in 2004. But even those willing to discuss inequality generally focused on the gap between the poor or the working class and the merely well-off, not the truly rich—on college graduates whose wage gains outpaced those of less-educated workers, or on the comparative good fortune of the top fifth of the population compared with the bottom four fifths, not on the rapidly rising incomes of executives and bankers.

It therefore came as a revelation when Piketty and his colleagues showed that incomes of the now famous “one percent,” and of even narrower groups, are actually the big story in rising inequality. And this discovery came with a second revelation: talk of a second Gilded Age, which might have seemed like hyperbole, was nothing of the kind. In America in particular the share of national income going to the top one percent has followed a great U-shaped arc. Before World War I the one percent received around a fifth of total income in both Britain and the United States. By 1950 that share had been cut by more than half. But since 1980 the one percent has seen its income share surge again—and in the United States it’s back to what it was a century ago.

Still, today’s economic elite is very different from that of the nineteenth century, isn’t it? Back then, great wealth tended to be inherited; aren’t today’s economic elite people who earned their position? Well, Piketty tells us that this isn’t as true as you think, and that in any case this state of affairs may prove no more durable than the middle-class society that flourished for a generation after World War II. The big idea of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that we haven’t just gone back to nineteenth-century levels of income inequality, we’re also on a path back to “patrimonial capitalism,” in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled not by talented individuals but by family dynasties.

It’s a remarkable claim—and precisely because it’s so remarkable, it needs to be examined carefully and critically. Before I get into that, however, let me say right away that Piketty has written a truly superb book. It’s a work that melds grand historical sweep—when was the last time you heard an economist invoke Jane Austen and Balzac?—with painstaking data analysis. And even though Piketty mocks the economics profession for its “childish passion for mathematics,” underlying his discussion is a tour de force of economic modeling, an approach that integrates the analysis of economic growth with that of the distribution of income and wealth. This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.

1.

What do we know about economic inequality, and about when do we know it? Until the Piketty revolution swept through the field, most of what we knew about income and wealth inequality came from surveys, in which randomly chosen households are asked to fill in a questionnaire, and their answers are tallied up to produce a statistical portrait of the whole. The international gold standard for such surveys is the annual survey conducted once a year by the Census Bureau. The Federal Reserve also conducts a triennial survey of the distribution of wealth.

These two surveys are an essential guide to the changing shape of American society. Among other things, they have long pointed to a dramatic shift in the process of US economic growth, one that started around 1980. Before then, families at all levels saw their incomes grow more or less in tandem with the growth of the economy as a whole. After 1980, however, the lion’s share of gains went to the top end of the income distribution, with families in the bottom half lagging far behind.

Historically, other countries haven’t been equally good at keeping track of who gets what; but this situation has improved over time, in large part thanks to the efforts of the Luxembourg Income Study (with which I will soon be affiliated). And the growing availability of survey data that can be compared across nations has led to further important insights. In particular, we now know both that the United States has a much more unequal distribution of income than other advanced countries and that much of this difference in outcomes can be attributed directly to government action. European nations in general have highly unequal incomes from market activity, just like the United States, although possibly not to the same extent. But they do far more redistribution through taxes and transfers than America does, leading to much less inequality in disposable incomes.

Yet for all their usefulness, survey data have important limitations. They tend to undercount or miss entirely the income that accrues to the handful of individuals at the very top of the income scale. They also have limited historical depth. Even US survey data only take us to 1947.

Enter Piketty and his colleagues, who have turned to an entirely different source of information: tax records. This isn’t a new idea. Indeed, early analyses of income distribution relied on tax data because they had little else to go on. Piketty et al. have, however, found ways to merge tax data with other sources to produce information that crucially complements survey evidence. In particular, tax data tell us a great deal about the elite. And tax-based estimates can reach much further into the past: the United States has had an income tax since 1913, Britain since 1909. France, thanks to elaborate estate tax collection and record-keeping, has wealth data reaching back to the late eighteenth century.

Exploiting these data isn’t simple. But by using all the tricks of the trade, plus some educated guesswork, Piketty is able to produce a summary of the fall and rise of extreme inequality over the course of the past century. It looks like Table 1 on this page.

As I said, describing our current era as a new Gilded Age or Belle Époque isn’t hyperbole; it’s the simple truth. But how did this happen?

krugman_2-050814

2.

Piketty throws down the intellectual gauntlet right away, with his book’s very title:Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Are economists still allowed to talk like that?

It’s not just the obvious allusion to Marx that makes this title so startling. By invoking capital right from the beginning, Piketty breaks ranks with most modern discussions of inequality, and hearkens back to an older tradition.

The general presumption of most inequality researchers has been that earned income, usually salaries, is where all the action is, and that income from capital is neither important nor interesting. Piketty shows, however, that even today income from capital, not earnings, predominates at the top of the income distribution. He also shows that in the past—during Europe’s Belle Époque and, to a lesser extent, America’s Gilded Age—unequal ownership of assets, not unequal pay, was the prime driver of income disparities. And he argues that we’re on our way back to that kind of society. Nor is this casual speculation on his part. For all that Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a work of principled empiricism, it is very much driven by a theoretical frame that attempts to unify discussion of economic growth and the distribution of both income and wealth. Basically, Piketty sees economic history as the story of a race between capital accumulation and other factors driving growth, mainly population growth and technological progress.

To be sure, this is a race that can have no permanent victor: over the very long run, the stock of capital and total income must grow at roughly the same rate. But one side or the other can pull ahead for decades at a time. On the eve of World War I, Europe had accumulated capital worth six or seven times national income. Over the next four decades, however, a combination of physical destruction and the diversion of savings into war efforts cut that ratio in half. Capital accumulation resumed after World War II, but this was a period of spectacular economic growth—the Trente Glorieuses, or “Glorious Thirty” years; so the ratio of capital to income remained low. Since the 1970s, however, slowing growth has meant a rising capital ratio, so capital and wealth have been trending steadily back toward Belle Époque levels. And this accumulation of capital, says Piketty, will eventually recreate Belle Époque–style inequality unless opposed by progressive taxation.

Why? It’s all about r versus g—the rate of return on capital versus the rate of economic growth.

Just about all economic models tell us that if g falls—which it has since 1970, a decline that is likely to continue due to slower growth in the working-age population and slower technological progress—r will fall too. But Piketty asserts that r will fall less than g. This doesn’t have to be true. However, if it’s sufficiently easy to replace workers with machines—if, to use the technical jargon, the elasticity of substitution between capital and labor is greater than one—slow growth, and the resulting rise in the ratio of capital to income, will indeed widen the gap between r and g. And Piketty argues that this is what the historical record shows will happen.

If he’s right, one immediate consequence will be a redistribution of income away from labor and toward holders of capital. The conventional wisdom has long been that we needn’t worry about that happening, that the shares of capital and labor respectively in total income are highly stable over time. Over the very long run, however, this hasn’t been true. In Britain, for example, capital’s share of income—whether in the form of corporate profits, dividends, rents, or sales of property, for example—fell from around 40 percent before World War I to barely 20 percent circa 1970, and has since bounced roughly halfway back. The historical arc is less clear-cut in the United States, but here, too, there is a redistribution in favor of capital underway. Notably, corporate profits have soared since the financial crisis began, while wages—including the wages of the highly educated—have stagnated.

A rising share of capital, in turn, directly increases inequality, because ownership of capital is always much more unequally distributed than labor income. But the effects don’t stop there, because when the rate of return on capital greatly exceeds the rate of economic growth, “the past tends to devour the future”: society inexorably tends toward dominance by inherited wealth.

Consider how this worked in Belle Époque Europe. At the time, owners of capital could expect to earn 4–5 percent on their investments, with minimal taxation; meanwhile economic growth was only around one percent. So wealthy individuals could easily reinvest enough of their income to ensure that their wealth and hence their incomes were growing faster than the economy, reinforcing their economic dominance, even while skimming enough off to live lives of great luxury.

And what happened when these wealthy individuals died? They passed their wealth on—again, with minimal taxation—to their heirs. Money passed on to the next generation accounted for 20 to 25 percent of annual income; the great bulk of wealth, around 90 percent, was inherited rather than saved out of earned income. And this inherited wealth was concentrated in the hands of a very small minority: in 1910 the richest one percent controlled 60 percent of the wealth in France; in Britain, 70 percent.

No wonder, then, that nineteenth-century novelists were obsessed with inheritance. Piketty discusses at length the lecture that the scoundrel Vautrin gives to Rastignac in Balzac’s Père Goriot, whose gist is that a most successful career could not possibly deliver more than a fraction of the wealth Rastignac could acquire at a stroke by marrying a rich man’s daughter. And it turns out that Vautrin was right: being in the top one percent of nineteenth-century heirs and simply living off your inherited wealth gave you around two and a half times the standard of living you could achieve by clawing your way into the top one percent of paid workers.

You might be tempted to say that modern society is nothing like that. In fact, however, both capital income and inherited wealth, though less important than they were in the Belle Époque, are still powerful drivers of inequality—and their importance is growing. In France, Piketty shows, the inherited share of total wealth dropped sharply during the era of wars and postwar fast growth; circa 1970 it was less than 50 percent. But it’s now back up to 70 percent, and rising. Correspondingly, there has been a fall and then a rise in the importance of inheritance in conferring elite status: the living standard of the top one percent of heirs fell below that of the top one percent of earners between 1910 and 1950, but began rising again after 1970. It’s not all the way back to Rasti-gnac levels, but once again it’s generally more valuable to have the right parents (or to marry into having the right in-laws) than to have the right job.

And this may only be the beginning. Figure 1 on this page shows Piketty’s estimates of global r and g over the long haul, suggesting that the era of equalization now lies behind us, and that the conditions are now ripe for the reestablishment of patrimonial capitalism.

krugman_3-050814

Given this picture, why does inherited wealth play as small a part in today’s public discourse as it does? Piketty suggests that the very size of inherited fortunes in a way makes them invisible: “Wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities.” This is a very good point. But it’s surely not the whole explanation. For the fact is that the most conspicuous example of soaring inequality in today’s world—the rise of the very rich one percent in the Anglo-Saxon world, especially the United States—doesn’t have all that much to do with capital accumulation, at least so far. It has more to do with remarkably high compensation and incomes.

3.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century is, as I hope I’ve made clear, an awesome work. At a time when the concentration of wealth and income in the hands of a few has resurfaced as a central political issue, Piketty doesn’t just offer invaluable documentation of what is happening, with unmatched historical depth. He also offers what amounts to a unified field theory of inequality, one that integrates economic growth, the distribution of income between capital and labor, and the distribution of wealth and income among individuals into a single frame.

And yet there is one thing that slightly detracts from the achievement—a sort of intellectual sleight of hand, albeit one that doesn’t actually involve any deception or malfeasance on Piketty’s part. Still, here it is: the main reason there has been a hankering for a book like this is the rise, not just of the one percent, but specifically of the American one percent. Yet that rise, it turns out, has happened for reasons that lie beyond the scope of Piketty’s grand thesis.

Piketty is, of course, too good and too honest an economist to try to gloss over inconvenient facts. “US inequality in 2010,” he declares, “is quantitatively as extreme as in old Europe in the first decade of the twentieth century, but the structure of that inequality is rather clearly different.” Indeed, what we have seen in America and are starting to see elsewhere is something “radically new”—the rise of “supersalaries.”

Capital still matters; at the very highest reaches of society, income from capital still exceeds income from wages, salaries, and bonuses. Piketty estimates that the increased inequality of capital income accounts for about a third of the overall rise in US inequality. But wage income at the top has also surged. Real wages for most US workers have increased little if at all since the early 1970s, but wages for the top one percent of earners have risen 165 percent, and wages for the top 0.1 percent have risen 362 percent. If Rastignac were alive today, Vautrin might concede that he could in fact do as well by becoming a hedge fund manager as he could by marrying wealth.

What explains this dramatic rise in earnings inequality, with the lion’s share of the gains going to people at the very top? Some US economists suggest that it’s driven by changes in technology. In a famous 1981 paper titled “The Economics of Superstars,” the Chicago economist Sherwin Rosen argued that modern communications technology, by extending the reach of talented individuals, was creating winner-take-all markets in which a handful of exceptional individuals reap huge rewards, even if they’re only modestly better at what they do than far less well paid rivals.

Piketty is unconvinced. As he notes, conservative economists love to talk about the high pay of performers of one kind or another, such as movie and sports stars, as a way of suggesting that high incomes really are deserved. But such people actually make up only a tiny fraction of the earnings elite. What one finds instead is mainly executives of one sort or another—people whose performance is, in fact, quite hard to assess or give a monetary value to.

Who determines what a corporate CEO is worth? Well, there’s normally a compensation committee, appointed by the CEO himself. In effect, Piketty argues, high-level executives set their own pay, constrained by social norms rather than any sort of market discipline. And he attributes skyrocketing pay at the top to an erosion of these norms. In effect, he attributes soaring wage incomes at the top to social and political rather than strictly economic forces.

Now, to be fair, he then advances a possible economic analysis of changing norms, arguing that falling tax rates for the rich have in effect emboldened the earnings elite. When a top manager could expect to keep only a small fraction of the income he might get by flouting social norms and extracting a very large salary, he might have decided that the opprobrium wasn’t worth it. Cut his marginal tax rate drastically, and he may behave differently. And as more and more of the supersalaried flout the norms, the norms themselves will change.

There’s a lot to be said for this diagnosis, but it clearly lacks the rigor and universality of Piketty’s analysis of the distribution of and returns to wealth. Also, I don’t thinkCapital in the Twenty-First Century adequately answers the most telling criticism of the executive power hypothesis: the concentration of very high incomes in finance, where performance actually can, after a fashion, be evaluated. I didn’t mention hedge fund managers idly: such people are paid based on their ability to attract clients and achieve investment returns. You can question the social value of modern finance, but the Gordon Gekkos out there are clearly good at something, and their rise can’t be attributed solely to power relations, although I guess you could argue that willingness to engage in morally dubious wheeling and dealing, like willingness to flout pay norms, is encouraged by low marginal tax rates.

Overall, I’m more or less persuaded by Piketty’s explanation of the surge in wage inequality, though his failure to include deregulation is a significant disappointment. But as I said, his analysis here lacks the rigor of his capital analysis, not to mention its sheer, exhilarating intellectual elegance.

Yet we shouldn’t overreact to this. Even if the surge in US inequality to date has been driven mainly by wage income, capital has nonetheless been significant too. And in any case, the story looking forward is likely to be quite different. The current generation of the very rich in America may consist largely of executives rather than rentiers, people who live off accumulated capital, but these executives have heirs. And America two decades from now could be a rentier-dominated society even more unequal than Belle Époque Europe.

But this doesn’t have to happen.

4.

At times, Piketty almost seems to offer a deterministic view of history, in which everything flows from the rates of population growth and technological progress. In reality, however, Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes it clear that public policy can make an enormous difference, that even if the underlying economic conditions point toward extreme inequality, what Piketty calls “a drift toward oligarchy” can be halted and even reversed if the body politic so chooses.

The key point is that when we make the crucial comparison between the rate of return on wealth and the rate of economic growth, what matters is the after-tax return on wealth. So progressive taxation—in particular taxation of wealth and inheritance—can be a powerful force limiting inequality. Indeed, Piketty concludes his masterwork with a plea for just such a form of taxation. Unfortunately, the history covered in his own book does not encourage optimism.

It’s true that during much of the twentieth century strongly progressive taxation did indeed help reduce the concentration of income and wealth, and you might imagine that high taxation at the top is the natural political outcome when democracy confronts high inequality. Piketty, however, rejects this conclusion; the triumph of progressive taxation during the twentieth century, he contends, was “an ephemeral product of chaos.” Absent the wars and upheavals of Europe’s modern Thirty Years’ War, he suggests, nothing of the kind would have happened.

As evidence, he offers the example of France’s Third Republic. The Republic’s official ideology was highly egalitarian. Yet wealth and income were nearly as concentrated, economic privilege almost as dominated by inheritance, as they were in the aristocratic constitutional monarchy across the English Channel. And public policy did almost nothing to oppose the economic domination by rentiers: estate taxes, in particular, were almost laughably low.

Why didn’t the universally enfranchised citizens of France vote in politicians who would take on the rentier class? Well, then as now great wealth purchased great influence—not just over policies, but over public discourse. Upton Sinclair famously declared that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Piketty, looking at his own nation’s history, arrives at a similar observation: “The experience of France in the Belle Époque proves, if proof were needed, that no hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest.”

The same phenomenon is visible today. In fact, a curious aspect of the American scene is that the politics of inequality seem if anything to be running ahead of the reality. As we’ve seen, at this point the US economic elite owes its status mainly to wages rather than capital income. Nonetheless, conservative economic rhetoric already emphasizes and celebrates capital rather than labor—“job creators,” not workers.

In 2012 Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, chose to mark Labor Day—Labor Day!—with a tweet honoring business owners:

Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.

Perhaps chastened by the reaction, he reportedly felt the need to remind his colleagues at a subsequent GOP retreat that most people don’t own their own businesses—but this in itself shows how thoroughly the party identifies itself with capital to the virtual exclusion of labor.

Nor is this orientation toward capital just rhetorical. Tax burdens on high-income Americans have fallen across the board since the 1970s, but the biggest reductions have come on capital income—including a sharp fall in corporate taxes, which indirectly benefits stockholders—and inheritance. Sometimes it seems as if a substantial part of our political class is actively working to restore Piketty’s patrimonial capitalism. And if you look at the sources of political donations, many of which come from wealthy families, this possibility is a lot less outlandish than it might seem.

Piketty ends Capital in the Twenty-First Century with a call to arms—a call, in particular, for wealth taxes, global if possible, to restrain the growing power of inherited wealth. It’s easy to be cynical about the prospects for anything of the kind. But surely Piketty’s masterly diagnosis of where we are and where we’re heading makes such a thing considerably more likely. So Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an extremely important book on all fronts. Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we’ll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to.

Animais dão nomes uns para os outros que duram a vida toda? (Hype Science)

Publicado em 23.04.2014

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Estou andando por uma rua e vejo uma amiga. A amiga não me vê, então eu grito: “Oi, Marina!”. Marina se vira e olha para mim. Isto é o que os humanos fazem: já que todos nós temos nomes, aprendemos uns os dos outros. Se a pessoa que eu vi é realmente a Marina, eu rapidamente me conecto a ela.

Os nomes são muito úteis, especialmente para uma espécie social como os seres humanos. Se você é um solitário – como um polvo ou um guepardo – e passa a maior parte de sua vida em esplêndido isolamento, os nomes não serão de grande ajuda. A maioria de nós, porém, usa nomes constantemente.

Há diferenças sutis entre nomes humanos e nomes animais. Sim, batizamos os nossos cães e quando chamamos: “Vem, Rex!”, ele vem. O Rex pode até reconhecer seu nome, mas é difícil acreditar que ele reconheça o nosso. Meu nome é Jéssica, mas eu não tenho ideia do que as minhas cachorras me chamam em suas mentes caninas. Porém, ao contrário do que eu pensava, nós, seres humanos, não somos os únicos que usam nomes pelos quais somos reconhecidos ao longo das nossas vidas.

O experimento dos cavalos

A autora científica Virginia Morell, em seu novo livro “Animal Wise”, descreveu um experimento envolvendo cavalos, no qual os relinchos dos animais foram muito parecido com nomes.

Ela fala sobre um cavalo chamado Silver. Ele está em sua tenda, cuidando de sua própria vida, quando os pesquisadores passam por ali com uma égua do rebanho de Silver. Silver olha para eles, vê Pepsi passar e volta a mastigar seu feno. Pepsi some atrás de uma barreira.

Agora vem a ciência. Os pesquisadores têm um gravador escondido atrás dessa barreira, onde Pepsi está silenciosamente parada. Algumas vezes, os pesquisadores tocam o relincho de Pepsi, que é o seu som de identificação. Quando ouve o som, Silver olha brevemente e depois volta a comer. Nada demais, o cavalo que acabou de passar bufou. Isso é de se esperar.

Contudo, às vezes eles tocavam um relincho diferente, de um cavalo diferente que Silver também conhece, mas que não passou por perto, que não deveria estar lá. Quando eles fazem isso, Silver olha para cima imediatamente, olha para a barreira e continua olhando por um longo tempo, como se dissesse: “O que está acontecendo? Eu vi a Pepsi. Mas essa não é a Pepsi”.

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“Os cientistas fizeram este teste com vários cavalos e todas a vezes suscitaram a mesma resposta surpresa quando o cavalo ouvia alguém diferente de quem tinha visto”, conta Virgina.

O som dispara uma imagem na mente

Virgina cita o biólogo Karen McComb para explicar que isso mostra que o cavalo tinha uma expectativa. “Ele esperava ouvir o relincho do indivíduo que tinha acabado de passar, porém, ao invés disso, ouve outro animal. Isso significa que os cavalos têm imagens em sua mente dos cavalos que conhecem”.

Isso é um começo. Entretanto, quando os seres humanos usam nomes, fazemos mais do que isso. Muito mais. Em vez de apenas “Eu, Jéssica”, “Eu, Marina”, podemos dizer: “Oi, Marina. Quer almoçar?”. Será que algum animal também tem a capacidade de fazer isso? De usar um nome para começar uma conversa? A resposta é sim.

Considere o periquito mastrantero (Forpus passerinus), um passarinho verde adorável que vive na região da Colômbia, Venezuela e ao largo da porção brasileira do Rio Amazonas. O cientista Karl Berg construiu um monte de ninhos de papagaio em um rancho da Venezuela e instalou neles microcâmeras, gravando tudo que os animaizinhos fazem. Como você pode imaginar, eles piam muito.

Enquanto muita gente acha que isso tudo é só uma barulheira, o pesquisador aposta que os periquitos estão conversando. Berg ouviu tantos papagaios em tantos ninhos e por tanto tempo, que ele é capaz de identificar que semanas após o nascimento, esses pequenos pássaros começam a usar sons muito específicos para identificar-se entre si. Não só isso, eles aprendem os “nomes” de seus pais, irmãos, irmãs, e sabem usá-los na conversa.

De onde vêm os nomes?

Mas quem batiza esses papagaios? Será que a natureza dá a cada filhote um conjunto pré-programado de pios? “Uma possibilidade”, explica Berg a Virginia, “é que os pais estão nomeando seus filhotes, da mesma forma que fazemos com os nossos filhos”.

O vídeo abaixo (narrado por Cornell Mark Dantzker e com legendas disponíveis em tradução automática) mostra como Karl Berg fez o experimento que sugere fortemente que as mamães e papais papagaio escolhem os nomes de seus bebês.

O pesquisador trocou ovos de ninho para descobrir se os nomes eram um código genético ou aprendidos. Para isso, comparam o som dos filhotes quando atingiam a maturidade com os de seus pais biológicos e adotivos. A conclusão foi de que os sons eram mais parecidos com os dos pais adotivos, o que provaria que eles foram aprendidos durante o crescimento.

O livro de Virginia Morell revela que os seres humanos e os papagaios não são os únicos a usarem esse sistema. Os golfinhos têm cliques e assobios particulares que são nomes – nomes que, como nós, são usados em conversas casuais.

Aos poucos, os cientistas estão aprendendo a decodificar as conversas de animais muito diferentes, bichos que vivem vidas ricas em intrigas, planos, brigas, esquemas, romance, apetites. Um dia seremos capazes de acompanhar tudo isso e mesmo nos intrometermos na conversa chamando um papagaio, um golfinho ou um cavalo pelo seu nome “verdadeiro”. Já imaginou?

Seria como assistir a reality shows. Ao invés de “Mulheres Ricas”, veremos “As conspirações dos papagaios da Venezuela”, e todos nós vamos torcer para aquele chamado “Pip-de-pip-de-pi, pi, pi” ficar com a papagaia mais bonita. [NPRProceedings Of The Royal SocietyCornell Lab of Ornithology]

Tornadoes, Dust Storms and Floods: What the Hell Happened This Week? (Mashable)

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John Smith reacts after seeing what’s left of his auto repair shop in Mayflower, Ark., Monday, April 28, 2014, after a tornado struck the town late Sunday. IMAGE: KAREN E. SEGRAVE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The United States had its most unusual weather week of the year to date, with a massive, slow-moving storm system spawning dozens of killer tornadoes, generating widespread flooding and even whipping up hurricane force winds amid blinding dust in the Great Plains.Here are just some of the statistics from this storm system:

    • In Mississippi, the storm spawned at least 14 tornadoes on April 28, including one EF-4 tornado that damaged the city of Louisville in Winston County. At least 10 tornado-related fatalities occurred in Mississippi.
    • In Arkansas, an EF-4 tornado with winds approaching 200 mph touched down on April 27, remaining on the ground for 42 miles, causing heavy damage to the small towns of Mayflower and Vilonia.
    • Along the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast, including the city of Pensacola, Fla., a staggering 15 to 25 inches of rain fell in just 24 hours, including an hourly rainfall rate of nearly six inches per hour. The National Weather Service said such rainfall rates made this a 1-in-200 to 1-in-500 year rainfall event, meaning there is between a 0.2 to 0.5% likelihood of such a deluge occurring in any given year. These rainfall totals were higher than records set during landfalling hurricanes.
    • The heavy rain spread up the East Coast, where New York City had its 10th-wettest calendar day on record, with 4.97 inches of rain. The wettest day on record was Sept. 23, 1882, when 8.28 inches of rain fell.
    • In the Plains, which is enduring a severe droughtmultiple days of strong winds gusting above 60 mph created blinding dust storms. In Garden City, Kan., for example, wind gusts reached 65 mph on Tuesday, making it the fourth day in a row that wind speeds exceeded 45 mph.

Below, we answered some key questions about this wild weather week.

What the heck kind of storm was this, anyway?

The storm system that helped cause the tornadoes and the flooding is known as a “closed low,” or a low pressure area in the upper levels of the atmosphere that has been cut off from the atmosphere’s steering currents and left to meander on its own. Think of it as a storm that the jet stream cast aside, for unknown reasons.

In any event, the closed low meandered above the High Plains, as the jet stream took on a bizarre, sinuous S-like shape across the U.S. and Canada.

Jet Stream IMAGE: MASHABLE

The jet stream barely changed throughout the week, keeping the closed low locked in place. The firehose-like feed of Gulf of Mexico moisture blasted northward on its eastern flank, resulting from the counterclockwise flow of air around the low pressure area.

This moist air was one of the main ingredients that helped spark the tornado outbreak on April 27 and 28, as well as the flash flooding on April 30.

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Tweet by Andrew FreedmanThe weather pattern in the US is stuck, one swirl in Plains, another offshore. Tornado outbreak in b/w. 6:14 PM – 28 Apr 2014

 

Interestingly, the closed low that spun its way around the High Plains was mirrored by another closed low off the East Coast, in a weather pattern that seemed to have been engineered for the sole purpose of producing extreme outcomes across the U.S.

Why did the storm move so slowly?

As happens from time to time — although some suspect it is happening more frequently now — the weather pattern got stuck in place this week. An unusually large and intense area of high pressure across southeastern Canada helped ensure that the closed low above the Plains had nowhere to escape, as the S-shaped jet stream slowly slithered its way eastward toward the East Coast, like a snake slowly digesting its prey.

The S-shaped jet stream slowly slithered its way eastward toward the East Coast, like a snake slowly digesting its prey.

Blocking patterns such as this one often lead to extreme weather events, especially temperature and precipitation extremes.

For example, a blocking pattern across Europe and Russia in 2010 led to the deadly Russian heat wave that killed thousands and contributed to massive wildfires, as well as the disastrous Pakistan floods that occurred around the same time. Another blocking pattern resulted in the deadly 2003 European heat wave, which killed an estimated 40,000 people.

In the U.S., meteorologists generally view closed, meandering, almost drunk weather patterns like the one from this past week with a sense of foreboding, since they can instigate and prolong severe weather outbreaks. In other words, closed lows usually mean trouble.

How might global warming have contributed to this storm?

Given the sharp increase in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, the atmosphere now contains more moisture, on average, and is warmer, on average, than it used to be. Therefore, any weather system that occurs does so in an altered setting. However, that doesn’t really tell us much, so we have to pick this event apart into its many components.

First, let’s take the blocking pattern itself. Some meteorologists and climate scientists suspect that global warming is leading to more amplified, or wavy, jet stream patterns like the one we saw this week. This can prolong weather events and lead to more extreme events. One such scientist, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, has published several studies arguing that rapid climate change in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing twice as fast as the rest of the world, is behind the jet stream changes in the northern midlatitudes.

However, many atmospheric scientists are not yet sold on this hypothesis, and see little evidence of detectable jet stream changes at all. Nevertheless, this remains a subject of intense ongoing research.

Severe Weather Florida

Workers repair Euclid Street near 12th Ave. in Pensacola, Fla. that was washed out due to recent flooding, Thursday, May 1, 2014. IMAGE: JOHN RAOUX/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Next, let’s look at the tornado outbreaks. This is another subject of ongoing research, with evidence from computer modeling studies so far pointing to projected increase in the number of severe thunderstorm days in a warmer world, but a possible decrease in the number of tornado days as one of the key ingredients for tornadoes, wind shear, becomes more scarce across parts of the U.S.

Wind shear occurs when winds vary in speed or direction with height, or both. When the tornadoes struck Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama this week, wind shear was extremely high, with low-level winds blowing from the southeast, and winds a few thousand feet off the ground coming out of the southwest. This helped create the spinning motion that eventually resulted in the tornadoes.

According to the AP, data shows that the number of days with at least one significant tornado in the U.S. has been declining since the 1970s. Yet at the same time, the number of tornado outbreak days, with 30 tornadoes or more, has increased.

Rainfall Chart

Chart showing storm total rainfall amounts (in most cases these are two-day totals) along with average monthly precipitation for April. Data comes from Climate Central and NOAA. IMAGE: MASHABLE

“Something has been happening and we’re not sure yet why,” tornado expert Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory told the AP.

This transition to a “boom or bust” tornado regime is consistent with some climate studies showing that even if wind shear declines, it will still be present on some days, leading to potentially larger, but less frequent, outbreaks.

Lastly, there’s the heavy rainfall and flooding to consider. Here, at least, the scientific evidence is clearer — global warming is already leading to an increase in heavy rainfall events in the U.S. and elsewhere, and this is expected to continue. The reason for this is that warmer air holds more water vapor, which provides added fuel for storms.

According to the National Climate Assessment report, which is to be released on May 6, every region in the country (except Hawaii) has seen an increase in heavy precipitation events since 1991.

This means that we better get used to events like the one that occurred in Pensacola, where total 24-hour rainfall amounts approached two feet in some spots.

SEE ALSO: America Underwater: 20 Images From a Week of Record Rains

Análise de troncos de árvores ajuda a entender mudanças ambientais (Fapesp)

29.04.2014

Com uma motosserra, o botânico Gregório Ceccantini, professor do Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), corta o tronco de uma peroba-rosa morta e observa o disco de madeira que obtém. Além desses discos, ele e sua equipe também retiram amostras dos troncos de diversas espécies de árvores tropicais vivas.

“Pegamos as árvores vivas, contamos os anéis ano a ano, depois aplicamos a matemática para conseguir identificar qual é o ano do calendário correto. Uma vez que tivermos o ano do calendário e a sequência de padrões de anéis, emendamos aqueles anos (das árvores vivas) com os anos das árvores mortas. E assim podemos chegar a 200, 300 anos atrás”, explica Ceccantini.

Os pesquisadores acreditam que as informações sobre o clima, como aspectos relacionados à atmosfera e à composição da chuva, estão registradas nas árvores. Essa metodologia visa recuperar essas informações para tentar compreender tanto a velocidade quanto a intensidade das mudanças ambientais nas nossas florestas ao longo dos últimos séculos.

Para saber mais sobre o assunto, leia a reportagem Os círculos do tempo, publicada na edição 213 da revista Pesquisa FAPESP.

Um surto etnológico (OESP)

30 de abril de 2014 | 2h 07

Roberto Damatta – O Estado de S.Paulo

Um escritor advertia que o personagem central de um texto é o leitor. Sigo o conselho e explico o meu título: surto significa arrebatamento, transporte, rapto. Etnológico diz respeito ao estudo de sociedades tidas como “selvagens” ou “primitivas” porque não tinham escrita, desconheciam uma tecnologia onipotentemente destrutiva, sua sabedoria estava na cabeça de um punhado de idosos e, eis um escândalo: não cobriam seus corpos.

Discutiu-se se tinham alma e imaginou-se que habitavam uma variante do Éden, mas a convivência – essa rotina que transforma presidentes em donos de quitanda e deputados em canalhas logo mostrou que os “primitivos” eram humanos como nós e, como dizia Mark Twain, não pode haver nada pior do que ser um homem.

Surtado, perambulei pelas minhas notas de campo, escritas entre 1961 e a primeira quadra de 1970, quando vivi intermitentemente nas aldeias dos povos gaviões e apinaiés, falantes da língua jê. Na estação atual da minha vida, senti saudade de mim mesmo e fui em busca dos meus 20 e poucos anos, quando tinha uma letra bonita; e não havia experimentado sofrimento, morte e perigo. Sabia de sua existência, mas essas coisas não tocavam meu coração (que era maior do que o mundo) nem os planos de marcar a profissão que abracei com entusiasmo inocente e alucinado.

Queria descobrir se eu havia deixado passar em branco aquilo que meus colegas mais jovens haviam elaborado debaixo da liderança intelectual de Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, a quem eu dedico essa pequena memória.

Viveiros de Castro é um raro mestre pensador. Num ensaio de grande alcance intelectual, ele formulou uma relação que havia passado despercebida, a saber: no universo dos indígenas americanos, o denominador comum entre os seres vivos não era a natureza, mas a cultura.

Para nós, a humanidade é o centro definitivo e absoluto de consciência e vontade, mas não é assim entre os índios. Para eles, ser humano é um modo de ser entre outros. Talvez seja o mais visível, mas não é o mais central ou definitivo como dizem as cosmologias mais conhecidas e mais influentes, as quais asseveram que o ato final da criação são os humanos. Entre os ameríndios não há sete dias que culminam no Homem. Há uma multidão de narrativas reveladoras que as diferenças entre homens, bichos e plantas não é de substância.

Vejam o contraste. Do nosso ponto de vista, a sociedade humana é a herdeira de toda a criação. Homens, animais e plantas se unem pela sua “natureza” física. No mais, são radicalmente diferenciados, pois foi apenas a humanidade que recebeu o sopro divino.

Entre os “índios”, porém, a humanidade é um modo de ser, estar e perceber, entre outros. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro cunhou o conceito de “perspectivismo” para designar esses outros modos de enxergar a vida. Os mortos, os animais, as plantas e os fenômenos naturais seriam outras formas ou possibilidades de vivenciar a subjetividade que não seria algo exclusivo do humano.

Neste sentido, os mitos não são criações destinadas a explicar o inexplicável. São testemunhos de que somos parte de um imenso todo capaz de se comunicar o qual, em momentos memoráveis, se dividiu em entidades com uma aparência diferenciada, mas todas dotadas da capacidade de comunicação. Como pode adivinhar o leitor, tal reencontro se faz por meio de rituais ou em situações especiais – acima de tudo quando o ser (seja humano ou bicho) passa por um estado de extremada individualidade e solidão.

Consultando e lendo minhas notas de décadas passadas, colhidas na obstinação dos meus verdes anos, encontro muitas informações sobre animais. Esses atores fundamentais dos mitos que logram ou são logrados por algum humano e que, os meus professores nativos, repetiam para ouvidos moucos que eles eram iguais a nós e nos doaram o que sabemos.

Hoje, graças ao trabalho de Tania S. Lima, Aparecida Vilaça e Carlos Fausto – revejo meus dados e descubro como sol e lua, as estrelas, o sapo, os morcegos, o beija-flor e outros bichos são como nós e nós como eles. Eis um universo absolutamente relacional. Nele, ninguém tem o direito de ultrapassar um certo limite porque não há limites, mas modos de ser. Quanto a nós, que inventamos e legitimamos a “civilização” através da tecnologia (do uso dos talheres à bomba atômica), há muito vazamos todas as fronteiras.

Afinal, somos inventores e compradores de automóveis e, pior que isso, de refinarias.

(Se o surto continuar, eu continuo na próxima semana.)

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: How “One Health” Connects Humans, Animals, and Ecosystems (Environ Health Perspect)

Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.122-A122


A Ugandan child collects sweet potato vines near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. © Wendee Nicole

PDF file

Wendee Nicole was awarded the inaugural Mongabay.org Prize for Environmental Reporting in 2013. She writes forDiscoverScientific AmericanNational Wildlife, and other magazines.

Agossamer mist settles over the jagged peaks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a 318-square-kilometer park on the eastern flank of the Albertine Rift in southwest Uganda. It’s a hard scramble up and down steep ravines of this World Heritage Site,1 home to 400 of the world’s estimated 880 remaining mountain gorillas.2 The guide, Omax, radios ahead to trackers who have located the Habinyanja gorilla family. As the eight tourists and their porters catch up, everyone gathers to watch, mesmerized, as two gorillas placidly eat nettles. Without warning, a male gorilla named Kavuyo charges straight toward a middle-aged woman; she holds her ground, her eyes saucers. “He’s a joking one,” Omax says after shooing Kavuyo back.

Tourists have just one hour to watch the gorillas and must stay seven meters away from the animals, but counting tourists, porters, trackers, and guards, more than 60,000 people visit the park for the gorillas every year, in addition to locals passing through, potentially exposing both species to health hazards from the other.3 People and great apes are so closely related that infectious agents ranging from common cold viruses to potentially fatal diseases such as tuberculosis can pass between the two.4,5,6,7,8 One study found that 30% of park staff and 85% of local villagers admitted to defecating in the park without burying it, and many leave behind soiled trash that can expose the gorillas to parasites, pathogens, and other health threats.3

Outside the park, the potential health risks are even greater. Most families living and farming immediately outside the park do not have pit latrines, let alone flush toilets; 78% report defecating directly in their gardens, and 50% report using nearby bushes.3 When rains come, fecal matter left on the ground washes into waterways that livestock, wildlife, and people share for drinking and bathing.

Over the past two decades, the human population around the park has burgeoned, tourism has increased, and habituated gorillas have become less frightened of people. Human–wildlife conflict occurs when wild animals eat crops or damage property. Curious and enterprising, gorillas regularly raid people’s gardens9; for the poorest of the poor who live near the park boundary, this is a serious setback. This conflict can escalate poverty, increase disease spread, put people at risk from emerging zoonotic disease epidemics, and sometimes results in people killing or injuring wildlife9—a devastating consequence for critically endangered species such as mountain gorillas. In 1996 a gorilla infant died when its family contracted scabies mites, likely from curiously inspecting a villager’s scarecrow clad in mite-infested clothing.10 Scientists have documented other cases of infections likely passed from humans to gorillas.11

Recently, the dilemma of human–wildlife conflict has created great opportunity to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems for both people and ecosystems. The emerging “One Health” movement12 explicitly recognizes the inextricable connections between human, animal, and ecosystem health,13,14 and is leading not only to new scientific research but also to projects that help people rise out of poverty, improve their health, reduce conflicts with wildlife, and preserve ecosystems, such as Bwindi’s tropical montane forest.

In Africa and around the world, the integrated, holistic One Health effort has conservationists improving community health and people’s livelihoods, and health-care professionals participating in conservation.15 The authors of the Millennial Ecosystem Assessment have said that any hope of achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals16 not just for environmental sustainability but also for poverty eradication and improved health must explicitly consider the ecosystems that people depend on.17 The One Health approach shows promise for helping developing nations achieve these goals.18

The History of One Health

The connection between animal and human health was recognized even in ancient times; later, nineteenth-century physician Rudolf Virchow coined the term “zoonosis,” writing that “between animal and human medicine there are no dividing lines—nor should there be.”19 In the late twentieth century epidemiologist Calvin Schwabe first proposed the idea of “One Medicine” encompassing both human and animal health.20 But medicine has since lost sight of the forest for the trees, now even to the point of focusing on individual leaves, says Laura Kahn, a physician and research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

“A schism has been developing in medicine for decades,” Kahn says: Should it focus strictly on individual care or more broad-based population-level health? Shortly after the anthrax attacks following 9/11, Kahn was reading the veterinary medicine literature and found herself struck by how many diseases of bioterrorism are—like anthrax—zoonotic. “Yet I discovered that [people working in] veterinary and human medicine and agriculture rarely talk to one another,” she says. “We’re trying to deal with new twenty-first-century challenges using outdated twentieth-century paradigms.”

With West Nile encephalitis, SARS, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, swine flu, and other zoonotic diseases popping up regularly in recent decades, scientists and medical practitioners have taken notice.21 In 2004 the Wildlife Conservation Society held the One World, One Health conference to bring together leaders from various disciplines; it culminated in the 12 Manhattan Principles, which urged world leaders, scientists, and society to more holistically consider the interrelationship between zoonotic diseases and ecosystems.22 Since then, more researchers have begun explicitly addressing how the dramatic changes happening to the Earth’s ecosystems affect human health.23 In 2008 Kahn cofounded the One Health Initiative website, a clearinghouse for news and publications related to the movement.24

Perhaps even more than in the United States, people living in developing countries recognize the value of a One Health approach. “The developing world sees the connections between human, animal, and environmental health more than the developed world does,” says Kahn. People still live with their livestock, they interact with wildlife more often, and they share common water sources with animals, among other issues. “There’s still open defecation; it’s shocking,” she says. “Today, we’re dealing with global population pressures, intensive agriculture, global trade and travel. All these things are taxing the ecosystems”—not to mention human livelihoods.

A Hospital Using a One Health Approach

When Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was formed in 1991, the Batwa people were evicted from their forest home; they became “conservation refugees,” and today most live in abject poverty around the park edges. U.S. missionary doctor Scott Kellermann arrived in Uganda in 2000 to survey the indigenous Batwa pygmies and found his calling. What started with Kellermann treating patients under a tree eventually became the Bwindi Community Hospital, which he says now boasts one of the most mature, comprehensive health outreach programs in sub-Saharan Africa—one that addresses the region’s poverty, health, and conservation ailments in a holistic way. “If you really want to help gorillas, if you believe there’s human–wildlife conflict, then what you do is improve people’s quality of life,” Kellermann says.

Originally just for the small Batwa population, the hospital now reaches more than 100,000 people per year in a 190-square-kilometer area. Scott and his wife Carol founded the Batwa Development Program (BDP) in 2008 to help the Batwa raise funds to support themselves. They do so by weaving baskets from local materials and teaching tourists—and their own children—their traditional ways with a cultural ecotourism program called the Batwa Experience. In February 2014 the Dalai Lama honored Scott and Carol with the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award.25,26

From the start, Kellermann understood that a hospital alone would not solve poverty and its associated health ills. He says, “It is commonly believed that hospitals improve the health of a population. This is not true. Hospitals typically treat only the sick; health care is improved only through preventive programs. Clean water, sanitation, food security, and access to health education improves health and reduces poverty.”

The Batwa have always treated their illnesses with medicinal herbs, hunted wild game, and harvested honey to survive. But when the park was first established, those activities became illegal; people lost a means of sustenance,27,28 and today, accessing forest products is prohibited without a permit.

It takes time to change a culture; however, healthy people are less likely to access the forest for medicinal herbs or to poach wild animals for food, Kellermann says. If the Batwa received adequate health care and education—mosquito bed nets to prevent malaria, and information about the importance of hygiene and sanitation, for example—perhaps the reduced incidence of illness would mean less foraging for medicinal herbs. If they got adequate protein, perhaps they would not need to poach wildlife. Various organizations are continuing to address these issues.

Both the BDP and the hospital engage in weekly outreach to communities far and wide, not only collecting data on infectious diseases, births, and deaths, but also teaching people in their homes about health, hygiene, sanitation, and even conservation. “Educate the kids, particularly girls,” he says. “Girls attending school tend to have smaller family sizes, less HIV, less spousal abuse, and be more likely to advocate for their rights.”

In March 2014 the hospital sent four volunteers, including three Batwa women, to Tanzania to learn how to make fuel-efficient cook stoves that produce less smoke. “People do not know that pollution from firewood and open flames is hazardous. It is a silent killer,” explains Birungi Mutahunga, the hospital’s executive director. “[The volunteers] will be training the community to be able to make the stoves themselves and … that will minimize the need for people to go to the forest to get firewood, which brings people in contact with gorillas.”

The hospital’s outreach program also teaches locals how to make “tippy taps,”29 converting water jugs and sticks into foot-operated hand-washing stations. Among nearby schools, the hospital increased the percentage of latrines with hand-washing facilities from 12% to 91% in just 12 months, and they also installed tippy taps in many homes. During the same period, there was a 50% decline in people admitted to the hospital for diarrheal diseases, says Mutahunga.

An Economic Solution

Saving ecosystems while improving people’s livelihoods has been called a classic social–ecological dilemma, with the two outcomes typically at odds.30 Improving people’s health often means they lead longer lives and have more children, causing more degradation of stressed ecosystems. Likewise, conserving forests has often meant removing indigenous peoples or restricting local use of forest goods.

With that in mind, can a One Health approach really help people and ecosystems in the long run? Classic economic theory holds that people naturally act in “rational self-interest,” often contrary to the best interests of the larger group, in what Garrett Hardin in 1968 dubbed the “tragedy of the commons.”31 Many ecologists, economists, and policy makers have long assumed that the only way to protect natural resources is top-down ownership by a centralized government—create a national park, for example—or, at the opposite extreme, assign market values to ecosystem products or services.32

In the 1990s one optimistic political economist challenged the theory that people always act selfishly and would not work collaboratively to sustainably manage resources; Elinor Ostrom called these ideas “dangerous” when used unquestioningly as a foundation for policy. Ostrom, an Indiana University political science professor until her death in 2012, won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her paradigm-shifting work.33 After reviewing thousands of case studies and conducting her own research, Ostrom found that markets and states often failed to protect both ecosystems and human livelihoods. Instead, she found a third solution to solving this social–ecological dilemma: Give the local people most invested in using a common resource a say in its management.

Ostrom championed the idea that ordinary citizens can save ecosystems and improve human health and livelihoods, particularly if higher-level governments do not interfere with locally crafted arrangements. She identified several principles that make such situations successful, which included allowing the people using a common resource to make and modify the rules of use, making clear rules on who can and cannot use the resource, having outside authorities (local and national governments) respect local rules, ensuring that a monitoring system with appropriate sanctions is in place, and having cheap, accessible means of conflict resolution.32,34 “When people have the rights and freedoms to make their own decisions, it’s possible they do it a lot better than a government that’s centralized and doesn’t understand what it’s like on the ground,”35 says Catherine Tucker, an Indiana University associate professor of anthropology.

Ostrom Applied

Recognizing the importance of giving more power to local authorities, many governments around the world, including Uganda, have formally adopted decentralization policies, allowing local and regional government entities to make more decisions.36,37 But they do not always pass this power along to local citizens.38 “What we see is increased interference with local arrangements, some of which have worked well for centuries or millennia,” Tucker says.

Ostrom found that evicting indigenous peoples or restricting resource use within a forest upon the creation of national parks often causes poaching and illegal harvest of forest products to increase rather than decline, creating a free-for-all because local rules, long established, get disrupted.33,39 When people suddenly have no rights to resources they previously could access, they have little motivation not to break the rules. In Bwindi, data suggest that poaching and forest product harvest have not declined since locals were restricted from these activities.28,40

In one study, Makerere University professor Abwoli Yabezi Banana, a regular scholar at Ostrom’s Workshop, compared five Ugandan forests managed in different ways. The one forest with Batwa living inside its borders experienced less illegal harvesting by locals, who were allowed to harvest forest products once per week.41 Banana’s study aligned with Ostrom’s principles, particularly that having locally vested forest monitors helps prevent a tragedy of the commons. Uganda’s government has started moving away from its initial strict “protectionist” policies in parks, allowing locals limited use of park resources, with mixed results.28,36,42 This has led to more positive views of the park by locals, but evidence suggests that the neediest and poorest citizens are not benefitting as much as others.28

Further north in Uganda, Tony Goldberg, an epidemiology professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has applied Ostrom’s principles in a One Health framework in his work in and around Kibale National Park, a tropical forest and grassland overlooking the jagged Rwenzori Mountains. Outside the park, locals face similar human–wildlife conflict as the people near Bwindi, except with chimpanzees, elephants, and other wildlife that raid gardens. People nearby suffer from poverty and its associated health ailments.43

In his work as director of the Kibale EcoHealth Project, Goldberg has documented the interplay between the health of people and the health of ecosystems. “I’ve seen glaciers disappear [on the Rwenzoris]. I’ve seen forests become fragmented. I’ve watched human populations expand,” he says. “And we’re seeing a very clear effect on disease transmission and human health and animal health.”

The Kibale EcoHealth project has expanded beyond empirical research to implementing practical solutions to local problems. “When we talked to people in the community, the top concern was access to health care,” Goldberg says. So he partnered with colleagues from McGill University to build and run a medical clinic inside the park, a valuable service sanctioned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The team has gotten feedback from people who say it’s changed the way they view conservation.

“What we’re currently doing involves both ecological and social aspects, and is consistent with [Ostrom’s] overarching conclusions,” says Goldberg. “What I take away from her work … is that the solution needs to be engineered at the same scale as the problem. We work at the village level to solve village-level problems.”

Sustainable Livelihoods

As Jane Goodall celebrates her 80th birthday this year, her legacy lives on in Africa. In west-central Uganda, the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) Sustainable Livelihoods project not only aligns with the One Health perspective but also incorporates several of Ostrom’s principles. As human populations have expanded, chimp populations have declined throughout their range in central Africa—a classic social–ecological dilemma. Only 175,000 chimpanzees remain throughout their native range, with 5,000 remaining in Uganda.44 Meanwhile, Uganda’s human population grew from 8 million in 1962 to 34 million in 2012, with one of the world’s youngest populations (78% below age 30) and highest fertility rates (an average 6.4 children per woman).45

“Because of the rapidly growing human populations, we’ve had a lot of fragmentation of what was, centuries ago, a continuous forest,” says Peter Apell, JGI’s field programs manager in Uganda. JGI wanted to reconnect two isolated chimp populations living in the Bugoma and Wambabya forest patches. “It was such a daunting task because connecting the fragments meant taking land away from communities that are living along that corridor,” Apell says.

The institute instead began working with the seven villages along the 6.4 kilometers of land connecting the forest patches. JGI staff met with community members and listened to their problems as well as their proposed solutions. “Many talked about how their level of poverty requires them to look for ways of improving their livelihoods,” Apell says. “A lot of them have said they are out hunting, they’re going into the forest to harvest wild honey, and they are facing problems because they get arrested. They say, ‘If I had money, I wouldn’t be hunting. If I had sheep or goats or pigs, I wouldn’t be hunting.’”

Even more than income and meat, the communities needed water. Rivers had dried up because locals farmed right to their edges, and siltation had filled them in. As a result, women and children walked for hours to gather water every day, sometimes causing children to miss school.46,47 JGI also noticed their agricultural practices were poor; for example they were using poor quality seeds, farming on steep slopes without terracing, and not rotating crops or properly mulching.

Not only did most villagers not believe that trees could restore the river or that new agricultural techniques would make a difference, they feared the government might take their land if forests and chimps returned, Apell says. JGI had to win over a skeptical crowd.

The institute began by improving goodwill; they installed one well per village, renovated five freshwater springs, and soon recruited a few pioneers. Participants received either improved crop seeds, beehives, Boer goats (which grow faster and larger than local goats), pigs, or training in basic forestry so they could raise tree seedlings for woodlots. Exotic fast-maturing species could be harvested for income, while indigenous trees would remain for a sustainable forest.

In exchange, JGI required participants to improve domestic hygiene and nutrition by undertaking a number of activities such as installing a pit latrine, establishing a kitchen garden, and constructing a drying rack to keep dishes off the bare ground. “These communities would wash their cups and plates using dirty water and then dry them out in the sun, like there, on the ground,” Apell says, pointing to the rich red soil. They also encouraged locals to build vented cook stoves to reduce smoke inhalation.

The people saw that JGI’s concern was genuine, and participation grew rapidly. After seeing improved crop yields and increased household incomes from the few initial participants, soon everyone wanted to join, says Apell.

In line with Ostrom’s principles of following the locals’ lead in creating their own rules, JGI distanced itself from the decision-making process, but put in place the structure for the communities to lead the process themselves, according to Apell. The locals started a community association with representatives from each village. They elected a chairman and leaders, then divided themselves into interest groups—some groups wanted honey, some wanted trees, others wanted seeds.

Since JGI lacked funds to give animals or seeds to every family, they adopted the “pass on the gift” approach widely used by Heifer International, a project partner. When one family’s goat breeds, for instance, they pass a female kid to another family. Likewise with pigs and seeds. “Even after the project there are still people passing on goats to each other, passing on [seeds], passing on tree seedlings,” says Apell. The project was designed to be self-sustaining even after JGI’s involvement ended last year.

Although the new trees need to grow at least five more years before chimps return, 90% of the riparian forest has been restored, and black-and-white colobus monkeys have returned to the river corridor. “During the village implementation time, that area was more peaceful and less threatening [for wildlife], ” says Apell. “Maybe the chimps are also watching.”

Twenty-First-Century Challenges

Although Ostrom identified principles that help both forest health and livelihoods, she regularly stressed that no panaceas exist.48 But her legacy makes clear that, in order to see long-term success, whether in East Africa or around the world, One Health projects must explicitly account for the political, social, and economic settings in which the problems and projects occur.49 With projects ranging from conservation and public health initiatives being implemented on the ground to scientific research occurring around the globe, One Health shows much promise in creating holistic approaches to solving the world’s pressing—and interconnected—problems.

“People who promote global health need to realize you can’t have global human health without healthy livestock and wildlife. We don’t live in a vacuum,” says Kahn. “For the challenges we face in the twenty-first century, we need to be creative in confronting multidisciplinary threats. One Health is a creative, flexible concept that promotes interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration.”


References and Notes

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