Arquivo mensal: outubro 2014

Crise da água amplia debate sobre reúso (Valor Econômico)

Reportagem do Valor Econômico informa que especialistas debaterão entre hoje e amanhã na USP o reúso de efluentes em diferentes aplicações

Seria importante e possível a realização de investimentos em diferentes cidades do país para que o esgoto doméstico vire água potável, segundo o professor Pedro Mancuso, da Faculdade de Saúde Pública da Universidade de São Paulo. Ele diz, no entanto, que algumas iniciativas precisam vir antes do reúso, como o cumprimento do Plano de Segurança da Água, como recomendado pela Organização Mundial de Saúde, para que não haja problemas de doenças com a “reciclagem” da água, além de investimentos em redes seguras de saneamento básico.

(Vanessa Jurgenfeld / Valor Econômico)

http://www.valor.com.br/brasil/3735590/crise-da-agua-amplia-debate-sobre-reuso

Teachable moments about climate change (Science Daily)

Date: October 14, 2014

Source: Springer Science+Business Media

Summary: Mapping first-hand experience of extreme weather conditions helps to target climate education efforts. First-hand experience of extreme weather often makes people change their minds about the realities of climate change. That’s because people are simply more aware of an extreme weather event the closer they are to its core, and the more intense the incidence is.


First-hand experience of extreme weather often makes people change their minds about the realities of climate change. That’s because people are simply more aware of an extreme weather event the closer they are to its core, and the more intense the incidence is. So says Peter Howe of Utah State University in the US, who led a study in Springer’s journal Climatic Change Letters about people’s ability to accurately recall living through extreme weather events. It also focused on how people’s proximity to such events — the so-called “shadow of experience” — aids their awareness of climatic episodes.

Howe’s team mapped data on people’s extreme weather perceptions from a national survey of 1,008 US adults conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication. The data were then overlaid on other maps of actual recorded events such as droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes.

They found that the public tends to accurately recall and report on extreme weather conditions. This is particularly true for hurricanes and tornadoes that cause large-scale destruction and personal suffering as well as events that attract media coverage. Drought, on the other hand, is much more difficult to perceive because it happens slowly over a longer period of time. It also generally affects a larger area of land. Actually, most people only believe that they have experienced a drought after 25 weeks of persistently dry conditions.

The closer people were to a weather event, the more intense and destructive it was and the longer it lasted, the better are the chances that people will note it. Howe says the proximity effect may be explained by an increased likelihood of personally suffering harm or property damage as one approaches the site of the event, as well as environmental cues (such as dark clouds or high winds) and social cues (such as tornado sirens or warnings).

“The shadow of experience — or the area within which people are more likely to report that they have experienced extreme events — increases as the magnitude of an event increases,” explains Howe. “Indirect damage through disruption of services, utilities, businesses, social networks, and local economies are one likely cause for the tendency of people to report personally experiencing events even if they live many kilometers away and did not suffer direct personal damage.”

Howe and his team believe that maps showing the shadows of experience of extreme weather could be used to focus disaster preparedness and climate education efforts after an event. They advise weathercasters to provide more climate change context when extreme weather events happen, and to educate their viewers about the climatic reasons behind them. In the case of droughts, the public should be helped to recognize the phenomenon as it is happening and to take specific steps to deal with it.


Journal Reference:

  1. Peter D. Howe, Hilary Boudet, Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward W. Maibach. Mapping the shadow of experience of extreme weather events. Climatic Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1253-6

NASA study finds 1934 had worst North American drought of last thousand years (Science Daily)

Date: October 14, 2014

Source: NASA

Summary: A new study using a reconstruction of North American drought history over the last 1,000 years found that the drought of 1934 was the driest and most widespread of the last millennium. Using a tree-ring-based drought record from the years 1000 to 2005 and modern records, scientists found the 1934 drought was 30 percent more severe than the runner-up drought (in 1580) and extended across 71.6 percent of western North America.

This photo shows a farmer and his two sons during a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936. The 1930s Dust Bowl drought had four drought events with no time to recover in between: 1930-31, 1934, 1936 and 1939-40. Credit: Arthur Rothstein, Farm Security Administration

A new study using a reconstruction of North American drought history over the last 1,000 years found that the drought of 1934 was the driest and most widespread of the last millennium.

Using a tree-ring-based drought record from the years 1000 to 2005 and modern records, scientists from NASA and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found the 1934 drought was 30 percent more severe than the runner-up drought (in 1580) and extended across 71.6 percent of western North America. For comparison, the average extent of the 2012 drought was 59.7 percent.

“It was the worst by a large margin, falling pretty far outside the normal range of variability that we see in the record,” said climate scientist Ben Cook at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. Cook is lead author of the study, which will publish in the Oct. 17 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

Two sets of conditions led to the severity and extent of the 1934 drought. First, a high-pressure system in winter sat over the west coast of the United States and turned away wet weather — a pattern similar to that which occurred in the winter of 2013-14. Second, the spring of 1934 saw dust storms, caused by poor land management practices, suppress rainfall.

“In combination then, these two different phenomena managed to bring almost the entire nation into a drought at that time,” said co-author Richard Seager, professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in New York. “The fact that it was the worst of the millennium was probably in part because of the human role.”

According to the recent Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, climate change is likely to make droughts in North America worse, and the southwest in particular is expected to become significantly drier as are summers in the central plains. Looking back one thousand years in time is one way to get a handle on the natural variability of droughts so that scientists can tease out anthropogenic effects — such as the dust storms of 1934.

“We want to understand droughts of the past to understand to what extent climate change might make it more or less likely that those events occur in the future,” Cook said.

The abnormal high-pressure system is one lesson from the past that informs scientists’ understanding of the current severe drought in California and the western United States.

“What you saw during this last winter and during 1934, because of this high pressure in the atmosphere, is that all the wintertime storms that would normally come into places like California instead got steered much, much farther north,” Cook said. “It’s these wintertime storms that provide most of the moisture in California. So without getting that rainfall it led to a pretty severe drought.”

This type of high-pressure system is part of normal variation in the atmosphere, and whether or not it will appear in a given year is difficult to predict in computer models of the climate. Models are more attuned to droughts caused by La Niña’s colder sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which likely triggered the multi-year Dust Bowl drought throughout the 1930s. In a normal La Niña year, the Pacific Northwest receives more rain than usual and the southwestern states typically dry out.

But a comparison of weather data to models looking at La Niña effects showed that the rain-blocking high-pressure system in the winter of 1933-34 overrode the effects of La Niña for the western states. This dried out areas from northern California to the Rockies that otherwise might have been wetter.

As winter ended, the high-pressure system shifted eastward, interfering with spring and summer rains that typically fall on the central plains. The dry conditions were exacerbated and spread even farther east by dust storms.

“We found that a lot of the drying that occurred in the spring time occurred downwind from where the dust storms originated,” Cook said, “suggesting that it’s actually the dust in the atmosphere that’s driving at least some of the drying in the spring and really allowing this drought event to spread upwards into the central plains.”

Dust clouds reflect sunlight and block solar energy from reaching the surface. That prevents evaporation that would otherwise help form rain clouds, meaning that the presence of the dust clouds themselves leads to less rain, Cook said.

“Previous work and this work offers some evidence that you need this dust feedback to explain the real anomalous nature of the Dust Bowl drought in 1934,” Cook said.

Dust storms like the ones in the 1930s aren’t a problem in North America today. The agricultural practices that gave rise to the Dust Bowl were replaced by those that minimize erosion. Still, agricultural producers need to pay attention to the changing climate and adapt accordingly, not forgetting the lessons of the past, said Seager. “The risk of severe mid-continental droughts is expected to go up over time, not down,” he said.


Journal Reference:

  1. Benjamin I Cook, Richard Seager, Jason E Smerdon. The Worst North American Drought Year of the Last Millennium: 1934. Geophysical Research Letters, 2014; DOI: 10.1002/2014GL061661

Weather history ‘time machine’ created (Science Daily)

Date: October 15, 2014

Source: San Diego State University

Summary: A software program that allows climate researchers to access historical climate data for the entire global surface (excluding the poles) has been developed. This software include the oceans, and is based statistical research into historical climates.

During the 1930s, North America endured the Dust Bowl, a prolonged era of dryness that withered crops and dramatically altered where the population settled. Land-based precipitation records from the years leading up to the Dust Bowl are consistent with the telltale drying-out period associated with a persistent dry weather pattern, but they can’t explain why the drought was so pronounced and long-lasting.

The mystery lies in the fact that land-based precipitation tells only part of the climate story.Building accurate computer reconstructions of historical global precipitation is tricky business. The statistical models are very complicated, the historical data is often full of holes, and researchers invariably have to make educated guesses at correcting for sampling errors.

Hard science

The high degree of difficulty and expertise required means that relatively few climate scientists have been able to base their research on accurate models of historical precipitation. Now, a new software program developed by a research team including San Diego State University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Samuel Shen will democratize this ability, allowing far more researchers access to these models.

“In the past, only a couple dozen scientists could do these reconstructions,” Shen said. “Now, anybody can play with this user-friendly software, use it to inform their research, and develop new models and hypotheses. This new tool brings historical precipitation reconstruction from a ‘rocket science’ to a ‘toy science.'”

The National Science Foundation-funded project is a collaboration between Shen, University of Maryland atmospheric scientist Phillip A. Arkin and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climatologist Thomas M. Smith.

Predicting past patterns

Prescribed oceanic patterns are useful for predicting large weather anomalies. Prolonged dry or wet spells over certain regions can reliably tell you whether, for instance, North America will undergo an oceanic weather pattern such as the El Nino or La Nina patterns. The problem for historical models is that reliable data exists from only a small percentage of Earth’s surface. About eighty-four percent of all rain falls in the middle of the ocean with no one to record it. Satellite weather tracking is only a few decades old, so for historical models, researchers must fill in the gaps based on the data that does exist.

Shen, who co-directs SDSU’s Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies Area of Excellence, is an expert in minimizing error size inside model simulations. In the case of climate science, that means making the historical fill-in-the-gap guesses as accurate as possible.Shen and his SDSU graduate students Nancy Tafolla and Barbara Sperberg produced a user-friendly, technologically advanced piece of software that does the statistical heavy lifting for researchers. The program, known as SOGP 1.0, is based on research published last month in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. The group released SOGP 1.0 to the public last week, available by request.

SOGP 1.0, which stands for a statistical technique known as spectral optimal gridding of precipitation, is based on the MATLAB programming language, commonly used in science and engineering. It reconstructs precipitation records for the entire globe (excluding the Polar Regions) between the years 1900 and 2011 and allows researchers to zoom in on particular regions and timeframes.

New tool for climate change models

For example, Shen referenced a region in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that sometimes glows bright red on the computer model, indicating extreme dryness, and sometimes dark blue, indicating an unusually wet year. When either of these climate events occur, he said, it’s almost certain that North American weather will respond to these patterns, sometimes in a way that lasts several years.

“The tropical Pacific is the engine of climate,” Shen explained.

In the Dust Bowl example, the SOGP program shows extreme dryness in the tropical Pacific in the late 1920s and early 1930s — a harbinger of a prolonged dry weather event in North America. Combining this data with land-record data, the model can retroactively demonstrate the Dust Bowl’s especially brutal dry spell.

“If you include the ocean’s precipitation signal, the drought signal is amplified,” Shen said. “We can understand the 1930s Dust Bowl better by knowing the oceanic conditions.”

The program isn’t a tool meant to look exclusively at the past, though. Shen hopes that its ease of use will encourage climate scientists to incorporate this historical data into their own models, improving our future predictions of climate change.

Researchers interested in using SOGP 1.0 can request the software package as well as the digital datasets used by the program by e-mailing sogp.precip@gmail.com with the subject line, “SOGP precipitation product request,” followed by your name, affiliation, position, and the purpose for which you intend to use the program.

Journal Reference:

  1. Samuel S. P. Shen, Nancy Tafolla, Thomas M. Smith, Phillip A. Arkin. Multivariate Regression Reconstruction and Its Sampling Error for the Quasi-Global Annual Precipitation from 1900 to 2011. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 2014; 71 (9): 3250 DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-13-0301.1

Se seca continuar, água acaba em novembro, admite Sabesp (O Estado de São Paulo)

Presidente da Sabesp diz que Justiça Eleitoral barrou propagandas e que não podia falar a palavra ‘seca’ e sobre gravidade da situação

A presidente da Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo (Sabesp), Dilma Pena, admitiu nesta quarta-feira, 15, que a água vai acabar na capital “em meados de novembro”, caso o regime de chuvas se mantenha baixo. Para evitar o desabastecimento generalizado, ela disse contar com o aumento das precipitações e com a segunda cota do volume morto do Sistema Cantareira, que nem sequer foi autorizado pela Justiça.

A matéria na íntegra está disponível em: http://sao-paulo.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,se-seca-continuar-agua-acaba-em-novembro-admite-sabesp,1577196

(Bruno Ribeiro/ O Estado de São Paulo)

Climate change in the news – Oct 14, 2014 (DISCCRS)

DISCCRSnews Digest, Vol 83, Issue 2

NEWS

REUTERS SUMMIT-Companies woefully unprepared for climate events-S&P – Reuters – October 13, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/13/climatechange-summit-sp-idUSL6N0S821A20141013

    Related: REUTERS SUMMIT-E.ON wants deep EU emissions cuts, early carbon trade reform – Reuters – October 13, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/13/climatechange-summit-eon-idUSL6N0S441G20141013

    Related: REUTERS SUMMIT-Drip, drip: Water startups slowly tap a glacial industry – Reuters – October 13, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/13/climatechange-summit-water-tech-reuters-idUSL3N0S52ND20141013

Russia signs deals with China to help weather sanctions – Reuters – October 13, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/13/us-russia-china-banks-idUSKCN0I20WG20141013

Pentagon: Climate Change Poses ?Immediate Risks? – Climate Central – October 13, 2014 – http://www.climatecentral.org/news/pentagon-climate-change-immediate-risks-18174

The Case for a Climate Goal Other Than Two Degrees Celsius – Yale Environment 360 – October 8, 2014 – http://e360.yale.edu/feature/interview_david_victor_the_case_for_a_climate_goal_other_than_two_degrees_celsius/2812/

A Community-Driven Framework for Climate Reconstructions – Eos – October 7, 2014 – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014EO400001/abstract

Climate Moms (and Dads) Fight Global Warming – ClimateWire (via Scientific American) – October 8, 2014 – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-moms-and-dads-fight-global-warming/

Satellite data shows U.S. methane ?hot spot? bigger than expected – American Geophysical Union – NASA and University of Michigan Joint Release – October 9, 2014 – http://news.agu.org/press-release/satellite-data-shows-u-s-methane-hot-spot-bigger-than-expected/

Fantastic journey: why animals are driven to migrate – Guardian – October 12, 2014 – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/13/the-worlds-mass-autumn-animal-migration

Fish Fail to Adapt to Rising CO2 Levels: Study – Climate Central – October 11, 2014 – http://www.climatecentral.org/news/fish-adaptation-co2-levels-18163

Acid damage to coral reefs could cost $1 trillion – New Scientist – October 8, 2014 – http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26344-acid-damage-to-coral-reefs-could-cost-1-trillion.html#.VDxajyiv1sQ

Sea level rise over past century unmatched in 6,000 years, says study – Guardian – October 13, 2014 – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/14/sea-level-rise-unmatched-6000-years-global-warming

Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches New Record Maximum – NASA Press Release (via AAAS EurekAlert) – October 7, 2014 – http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/antarctic-sea-ice-reaches-new-record-maximum/#.VDxZhiiv1sQ

    Related: Expanding Antarctic Sea Ice is Flooding ?Warning Bell? – Climate Central – October 13, 2014 – http://www.climatecentral.org/news/antarctica-ice-melt-sea-level-18155

97% of companies fail to provide data on key sustainability indicators – Guardian – October 13, 2014 – http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/oct/13/97-companies-fail-to-provide-data-key-sustainability-indicators-stocck-exchange-report

New ?Slurry? Could Make Carbon Capture More Efficient – Climate Central – October 10, 2014 – http://www.climatecentral.org/news/study-slurry-could-make-ccs-more-efficient-18164

Solar dimming reflects complexity of climate change – Climate News Network – October 13, 2014 – http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2014/10/solar-dimming-reflects-complexity-of-climate-change/

World of clean energy ?feasible? by mid-century – Climate News Network – October 10, 2014 – http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2014/10/world-of-clean-energy-feasible-by-mid-century/

FORUM

Kerry: Address climate change before it’s too late – Associated Press – October 9, 2014 a- By Steve LeBlanc – http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c0fcc74ddd664033b3506b5d886fe494/kerry-address-climate-change-its-too-late

No Paris climate deal better than bad one ? former French climate minister – Guardian – October 10, 2014 – By Arthur Neslen – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/10/no-paris-climate-deal-better-than-bad-one-former-french-climate-minister

We can meet 2C climate target ? and here’s how, say energy experts – Guardian – October 10, 2014 – By Stephen Leahy – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/10/we-can-meet-c2-climate-target-and-heres-how-say-energy-experts

Chimpanzees have favorite ‘tool set’ for hunting staple food of army ants (University of Cambridge)

15-Oct-2014

Fred Lewsey

This video shows a chimpanzee who has constructed a tool with which to investigate a camera (Nimba mountains, Guinea). 

West African chimpanzees will search far and wide to find Alchornea hirtella, a spindly shrub whose straight shoots provide the ideal tools to hunt aggressive army ants in an ingenious fashion, new research shows.

The plant provides the animals with two different types of tool, a thicker shoot for ‘digging’ and a more slender tool for ‘dipping’.

On locating an army ant colony, chimpanzees will dig into the nest with the first tool – aggravating the insects. They then dip the second tool into the nest, causing the angry ants to swarm up it. Once the slender shoot is covered in ants, the chimpanzees pull it out and wipe their fingers along it: scooping up the ants until they have a substantial handful that goes straight into the mouth in one deft motion.

This technique – ‘ant dipping’ – was previously believed to be a last resort for the hungry apes, only exploited when the animal’s preferred food of fruit couldn’t be found. But the latest study, based on over ten years of data, shows that, in fact, army ants are a staple in the chimpanzee diet – eaten all year round regardless of available sources of fruit. Ants may be an important source of essential nutrients not available in the typical diet, say researchers, as well as a potential source of protein and fats.

The new research, published today in the American Journal of Primatology, was led by Dr Kathelijne Koops from the University of Cambridge’s Division of Biological Anthropology and Junior Research Fellow of Homerton College.

This video shows a male chimpanzee looking on at a female who is using an ant-dipping tool (Kalinzu Forest, Uganda).

“Ant dipping is a remarkable feat of problem-solving on the part of chimpanzees,” said Koops. “If they tried to gather ants from the ground with their hands, they would end up horribly bitten with very little to show for it. But by using a tool set, preying on these social insects may prove as nutritionally lucrative as hunting a small mammal – a solid chunk of protein.”

Koops points out that if Alchornea hirtella is nowhere to be found, chimps will fashion tools from other plants – but seemingly only after an exhaustive search for their preferred tool provider.

Previous research has shown that chimpanzees will actually select longer tools for faster, more aggressive types of army ants. The average ‘dipping’ tool length across the study was 64 centimetres, but dipping tools got up to 76 cm.

The question for Koops is one of animal culture: how do chimpanzees acquire knowledge of such sophisticated techniques?

“Scientists have been working on ruling out simple environmental and genetic explanations for group differences in behaviours, such as tool use, and the evidence is pointing strongly towards it being cultural,” said Koops. “They probably learn tool use behaviours from their mother and others in the group when they are young.”

The research for the ant-dipping study – which took place in Guinea’s Nimba mountains – proved challenging, as the chimpanzees were not habituated to people – so the team acted almost as archaeologists, studying ‘exploited’ ants nests to measure abandoned tool sets and “sifting through faeces for ants heads”.

IMAGE: This image shows a chimpanzee using an ant-dipping tool.

To further study these illusive creatures, Koops set up cameras to take extensive video footage of the chimpanzees and their tool use. In doing so, she managed to capture a chimpanzee who has constructed a tool with which to investigate the camera itself – prodding it curiously and then sniffing the end of the tool (VIDEO 1).

“This study is part of a big ongoing research project. The next stages will involve looking at social opportunities to learn: how much time do youngsters spend within arm’s length of other individuals; how much time do they spend close to their mother; as well as innate predispositions to explore and engage with objects,” said Koops.

A video clip from the Kalinzu Forest in Uganda, where Koops is currently conducting comparative studies on East African chimpanzees, captures a male chimpanzee seemingly looking on enviously at a female who has managed to construct a much better dipping tool than his own and is feasting heartily as a consequence (VIDEO 2). Koops suggests this kind of observing of other individuals may lead to learning within a chimpanzee community.

“By studying our closest living relatives we gain a window into the evolutionary past which allows us to shed light on the origins of human technology and material culture,” added Koops.

A link to the paper can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1098-2345/earlyview

O jorro do hidronegócio (OESP)

SÉRGIO AUGUSTO – O ESTADO DE S. PAULO

11 Outubro 2014 | 16h 00

Como as irmãs do petróleo, seis empresas controlam a sua, a minha, a nossa água

DENNY CESARE/CÓDIGO19Cantareira. Água é bem essencial, não uma commodity

Se não começar a chover em abundância a partir da próxima semana, os paulistanos terão de pedir água de presente a Papai Noel. Se a chuva só cair sobre a capital e não na cabeceira dos rios que abastecem o Sistema Cantareira, 6,5 milhões de pessoas poderão ficar sem água em suas torneiras. A fonte está secando, e a culpa é menos de São Pedro que de São Paulo; ou, melhor dito, da Sabesp (Companhia de Saneamento Básico de São Paulo), que subestimou os estragos que as mudanças climáticas, a poluição e a extração descontrolada de recursos hídricos vêm causando ao consumo de água, aqui e lá fora.

Revelou-se há dias que a Sabesp sabia do risco de desabastecimento no Sistema Cantareira desde 2012, mas só começou a encarar o problema oito meses atrás, quando criou aquele bônus para quem economizasse água. Em 2012, limitou-se a alertar investidores da Bolsa de Nova York para a estiagem prevista e seu impacto nas finanças da empresa. Ainda segundo o promotor público Rodrigo Sanches Garcia, a Sabesp captou mais água que o autorizado para não prejudicar, acima de tudo, o valor de suas ações. Ou seja, tratou a água como “um negócio”, não como um bem coletivo, acusou o procurador.

O Sistema Cantareira responde por 73% da receita da Sabesp, cujos gestores, aliás, não são os únicos culpados pela crise em curso. Haja vista as ações civis também impetradas contra a ANA (Agência Nacional de Águas) e o DAEE (Departamento de Águas e Energia Elétrica), coniventes com o descaso.

Enquanto rezam para São Pedro e lamentam que Joe Btfsplk, aquele impronunciável personagem dos quadrinhos de Ferdinando que vive com um permanente cúmulo-nimbo sobre a cabeça, não possa visitar a Bacia do Rio Piracicaba, os paulistanos e seus vizinhos mais próximos podem fazer sua catarse baixando da Amazon a versão kindle de um livro esclarecedor sobre a crise da água: The Price of Thirst (O preço da sede), de Karen Piper (University of Minnesota Press, 296 págs., US$ 14,99), lançado na semana passada. Seu subtítulo (Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos) resume em sete palavras o caos que a má distribuição e exploração comercial da água deverão causar em escala mundial caso nada seja feito para sustar a ganância do hidronegócio.

Como o ar que respiramos, a água é um bem essencial, um direito humano, reconhecido como tal pela ONU, não uma mercadoria, uma commodity. O que não impediu que, na semana passada, um juiz tenha secado as torneiras de dezenas de milhares de residentes em Detroit sem grana para pagar a conta de água, que a Sabesp tenha demorado a repassar aos clientes o que seus acionistas já sabiam há dois anos e, pior ainda, que 20% do planeta continue sem acesso a água potável. Assegurar a todos água limpa e saneamento básico gratuitos é uma obrigação, um compromisso com a sobrevivência da humanidade. Se nada mudar, daqui a uns dez anos dois terços da população mundial terão de comprar água limpa daqueles que há tempos sacaram que a água é o petróleo do século 21.

Água é o que não falta. A Terra ainda dispõe da mesma quantidade de H²O do tempo dos dinossauros; o que mudou foi sua localização, alterada por mudanças climáticas e pela exploração do solo. Faltam sim reservatórios, açudes e aquíferos que não estejam quase exclusivamente a serviço da agricultura ou administrados por corporações internacionais, que se comportam como se explorassem minerais, madeira e energia solar.

Seria ótimo se fosse possível desviar água do Solimões para as tubulações da Grande de São Paulo. Ainda que fosse, custaria uma fortuna incalculável. Mais fácil mover as pessoas, inventar um novo urbanismo, construir prédios compactos e ecologicamente inteligentes, observa Karen Piper. Isso, porém, não faz parte da agenda do Banco Mundial e do FMI, que “vendem outros modelos de urbanização” e facilitam a prosperidade do hidronegócio, hoje comandado por corporações sem a visibilidade da Shell, Exxon, BP, Petrobrás, mas, no seu setor, igualmente poderosas e sedentas de lucro: Suez, Veolia, Thames, American Water, Bechtel e Dow Chemicals (sim, aquela mesma que fabricava bombas de napalm e agente laranja usadas na Guerra do Vietnã). Juntas controlam mais de 70% da água “privatizada”.

O New York Times cantou a pedra em 2006. “Sede dá lucro” alardeava o título de uma reportagem (“There’s money in thirst”), com informações inéditas sobre o mercado hídrico, que àquela altura já valia centenas de bilhões de dólares. “Mais promissor que a exploração de petróleo”, concluía a reportagem.

Amparada por quatro bolsas de estudo, Piper passou uma década viajando e recolhendo dados para seu livro. Viu de perto como funcionam o Conselho Mundial de Água (World Water Council) e seu fórum trienal (World Water Forum), com representantes da ONU, especialistas em desenvolvimento, ministros de minas e energia, chefes de Estado e, dominando a cena, os mandachuvas de multinacionais que exploram recursos hídricos nos cinco continentes. Os fóruns são uma espécie de Davos da água. Sempre em países diferentes, e já de algum tempo também hostilizados por um Fórum Alternativo Mundial da Água (Fame, na sigla em francês), que adotou um slogan em inglês: “Water for life, not for profit”, água é vida, não é negócio.

O primeiro fórum foi em Marrakesh, em 1997. O próximo, ano que vem, será na Coreia, e o seguinte, em 2018, em Brasília. Nada mais justo, pois o Brasil, este paraíso hídrico cuja maior cidade está ameaçada de ficar sem água no próximo ano, tem representação expressiva no World Water Council. Pelo relato de Piper, os fóruns não resolvem nada. São um blá-blá-blá pomposo, regado a champanhe e caviar. Com muita água mineral de graça para os abstêmios matarem a sede.

Once a Symbol of Power, Farming Now an Economic Drag in China (New York Times)

 

Li Haiwen, 47, grows medicinal plants, rather than grain, on the plot of land he rents from the local government in Yangling. “The more grain you plant,” he said, “the poorer you get.” Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

YANGLING, China — For about 4,000 years, farming in this region has been a touchstone of Chinese civilization. It was here that the mythic hero Hou Ji is said to have taught Chinese how to grow grain, and the area’s rich harvests underpinned China’s first dynasties, feeding officials and soldiers in the nearby imperial capital.

But nowadays, Yangling’s fields are in disarray. Frustrated by how little they earn, the ablest farmers have migrated to cities, hollowing out this rural district in the Chinese heartland. Left behind are people like Hui Zongchang, 74, who grows wheat and corn on a half-acre plot while his son works as a day laborer in the metropolis of Xi’an to the east.

Mr. Hui, still vigorous despite a stoop, said he makes next to no money from farming. He tills the earth as a kind of insurance. “What land will they farm if I don’t keep this going?” he said of his children. “Not everyone makes it in the city.”

Farm output remains high. But rural living standards have stagnated compared with the cities, and few in the countryside see their future there.The most recent figures show a threefold gap between urban and rural incomes, fueling discontent and helping to make China one of the most unequal societies in the world.

The nation’s Communist leaders have declared that fixing the countryside is crucial to maintaining social stability. Last year, they unveiled a new blueprint for economic reform with agricultural policy as a centerpiece. But the challenge confronting them resembles a tangled knot.

It begins with the fact that farms in China are too small to generate large profits, about 1.6 acres on average, compared with 400 acres in the United States. Yet it is difficult to consolidate these farms into larger, more efficient operations because Chinese farmers do not own their plots — they lease them from the government.

Privatizing farmland would allow market forces to create bigger farms. But that would be a political minefield for the Communist Party. It would also risk exacerbating inequality, by concentrating land ownership in the hands of a few while leaving many rural families without farms to fall back on if they hit hard times in the cities.

“All of these issues are interlocked and require a series of reforms to be solved,” said Luo Jianchao, a professor at Northwest A & F University in Yangling, and a government adviser. “There’s no magic bullet.”

In late September, President Xi Jinping endorsed an experiment underway in Yangling and other parts of China to untangle this knot. The measure, called liuzhuan, stops short of privatization but gives farmers land-use rights that they can transfer to others in exchange for a rental fee.

The goal is to simulate a private land market and allow China’s family-run, labor-intensive farms to change hands and be amalgamated into large-scale, industrialized businesses. In theory, liuzhuan allows this to happen without cutting ties between rural families and the land, because they collect rental fees as a safety net.

Mr. Xi has presented the policy as critical to China’s next phase of economic reform. Skeptics, however, say it shows the government remains unwilling to consider a bold measure that has worked in many countries: giving farmers full ownership of their land.

“Privatization of land is a key issue but it’s completely taboo,” said Tao Ran, an agricultural expert at Renmin University in Beijing. The party leadership, he said, “cannot countenance it.”

More is at stake than the socialist credentials of the Communist Party, which came to power in a peasant revolution in 1949 and immediately collectivized farmland. State ownership of land is also a major source of government revenue. In areas near cities, local officials often rezone agricultural land and flip it to developers at a huge premium, sometimes setting off violent protests by residents who are left out.

Others see the system of political control of the countryside at stake. “The rural system they’ve had since the 1950s is based on the state ownership of land,” said Fred Gale, who writes an influential blog on China’s agricultural sector called Dim Sums. “If this unravels, then the bureaucrats would be at a loss as to how to manage the countryside.”

In Yangling, a district of 155,000 people that has been a center for agricultural sciences since the 1930s, several problems with the government’s attempt to sidestep privatization are apparent.

Because farmers do not own their land, they cannot sell it and get a large, lump sum payment that could be used to make a new start. Nor can they mortgage land for funds that could be reinvested in their farms or in other businesses.

Yang Tewang, a branch manager of the state-run Yangling Rural Commercial Bank, said he has made about $3 million in mortgage-style loans since the liuzhuan experiment began. But he said they were not true mortgages since the banks cannot repossess land if the farmer defaults — the state owns the land, not the farmer. As a result, Mr. Yang said he minimizes risk by lending only to large-scale vegetable and fruit farmers.

“The rest don’t pay,” he said. A grain farmer, for example, could never get a loan, he said.

Another problem has been figuring out how to set the rental fees that rural families collect if they transfer their land-use rights.

Yangling set up a land bank that took over land-use rights in an area of 36 square miles, then set an annual rental fee of at least $750 per acre of land. Farmers could choose between giving up their land and collecting that rent, or leasing their land back from the state and continuing to farm.

But the fees can distort the market. For example, they have discouraged production of grain, which does not sell for enough of a margin over the cost of renting the land. Grain pays only about $1,250 per acre, for an annual profit of about $500, said one resident, Li Haiwen.

“The more grain you plant,” he said, “the poorer you get.”

Mr. Li grows magnolia bushes used in traditional Chinese medicine instead. But he said farming is just a sideline for him. His main source of income is in professional landscaping. “I think our minds are opening up and we realize there are other ways to make money,” he said.

Exactly why rental prices are so high is open to debate. In some parts of China, rents are even higher than in Yangling, topping $1,200 per acre. By contrast, the average acre of farmland in the United States rented for $136 in 2013, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Some experts say the rental fees have been driven up by the same sort of speculation that has made apartments so exorbitantly expensive in Chinese cities. Even in a remote area like Yangling, an apartment of 1,000 square feet sells for $50,000, and in cities like Beijing the price can easily be 10 times that.

In recent months, banks like the China International Trust and Investment Corporation have been buying rural land-use rights at high prices. Li Ping, an agricultural expert at Landesa, a nongovernmental organization focused on rural issues, said he believed the purchases have been made with an eye toward rezoning land for housing or industrial use.

“It’s like the housing prices here being higher than in most parts of the U.S.,” Mr. Li said. “It’s not sustainable.”

One of the success stories in Yangling has been the case of Zhang Hongli, who took over 197 acres once farmed by three villages and pays about $150,000 per year in rental fees.

Mr. Yang, the banker, described it as a win-win exchange. Mr. Zhang uses the land to grow watermelons, which sell for a nice profit in Xi’an. Meanwhile, the families who gave up their land are collecting about $500 per year on average, and almost all received free apartments from the government as well.

Government planners hope that more farmers will be moved to the cities so the countryside gradually depopulates and ever-larger-scale farming takes over. For farmers with a job already lined up in the city, this system is attractive. But for people still wanting to work the land, like Zhou Yuansheng, 66, it is an example of how little say he has.

“The big decisions are made by the government,” he said. “No one asked me what I wanted to do with my land.”

Pentagon: global warming will change how US military trains and goes to war (The Guardian)

Climate change to become immediate factor for all strategic, operational and planning decisions

theguardian.com, Monday 13 October 2014 18.37 BST

Global warming and climate change will change how US military trains and goes to war An Air Force reserve pararescueman from the 920th Rescue Wing scans the ravaged Texas landscape in the aftermath of hurricane Ike. Photograph: Tech. Sgt. Paul Flipse/U.S. Air Force photo

Global warming is changing the way the US trains for and goes to war – affecting war games, weapons systems, training exercises, and military installations – according to the Pentagon.

The defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, will tell a high-level meeting of military leaders on Monday that the Pentagon is undertaking sweeping changes to operation systems and installations to keep up with a growing threat of rising seas, droughts, and natural disasters caused by climate change.

“A changing climate will have real impacts on our military and the way it executes its missions,” Hagel wrote in his introduction to a Pentagon report out today. “We are considering the impacts of climate change in our war games and defence planning scenarios.”

The Pentagon’s strategic planners have for years viewed climate change as a “threat multiplier”– worsening old conflicts and potentially provoking new clashes over migration and shortages of food and water in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and opening up new military challenges in a melting Arctic.

But with Monday’s report, climate change moved from potential threat to an immediate factor in a wide range of operational and budgeting decisions.

“It makes it a reality that climate change indeed is a risk today, and we need to plan, programme and budget for it now and into the future,” said Sherri Goodman, chief executive of the military advisory board, a group of former generals and other high-ranking officers that studies US national security.

The report – unveiled at a meeting of more than 30 defence ministers from the Americas and Europe – also signalled US intention to take a lead role at international climate negotiations in Lima in December.

From now on, the military will factor climate change into a host of day-to-day decisions, a senior defence official told a conference call with reporters.

“It’s about being baked into things we are already doing, and incorporated into all the other things we are doing,” he said.

Those decisions could include war games, training exercises, and purchasing decisions – which could all be affected by conditions such as sea-level rise, heat waves, and drought.

War games scenarios would now factor in floods or storms instead of assuming optimal conditions, said Goodman. “You could make the game more complex with sea-level rise, and extreme weather events.”

She said the navy would have to test sonar and other systems under the changing ocean chemistry. The military will have to adapt to hotter temperatures.

One of the biggest and most costly decisions ahead is the location of some 7,000 US military sites.

As the report acknowledged, US military installations and personnel are already exposed to climate change. The Hampton Roads area in Virginia – which houses the biggest concentration of US forces – already floods during high tides and severe storms, and could see an additional 1.5 feet of sea level rise in the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, military bases in the south-west are coping with water and electricity shortages, under recurring droughts. Arctic land-based installations are shifting because of melting permafrost, while retreating sea ice is changing naval requirements.

The Pentagon is not planning a wholesale relocation of bases, the officials told the call. But they said the military was already bringing in sandbags and moving generators out of basements in low-lying areas. It was also shelving ideas for new construction on flood plains.

Other potential changes include cuts to outdoor training exercises – because of heat waves, or increased weapons maintenance costs and repairs because of heat and dust.

“As we think about changing weather patterns we have to think hard about where operations might be conducted and whether we need to change the assumptions about what kind of air breathing conditions … what kind of sea state we might expect in an operating environment, and what impact they might have.”

The report said troops could also be at greater risk of infectious diseases, which spread more rapidly in hotter temperatures.

Hagel in comments to reporters at the weekend said the Pentagon anticipated an increase in humanitarian missions, because of natural disasters and recurring famines.

He also said the Arctic presented a growing military challenge.

“We see an Arctic that is melting, meaning that most likely a new sea lane will emerge,” he said. “We know that there are significant minerals and natural deposits of oil and natural gas there. That means that nations will compete for those natural resources. That’s never been an issue before. You couldn’t get up there and get anything out of there. We have to manage through what those conditions and new realities are going to bring in the way of potential threats.”

The Pentagon was first instructed by Congress in 2007 to incorporate climate change into its long-term security planning.

But Republicans in Congress have gone on to block the military from preparing for a warmer future, cutting funds for intelligence gathering or testing low-carbon jet fuels.

Officials told the call that planning for the future would help bring down climate-related costs.

“There is a lot you can do to mitigate risk and lower the cost of risks if you acknowledge the risk exists,” the officials said.

Crocodiles are sophisticated hunters: Work as a team to hunt their prey (Science Daily)

Date: October 13, 2014

Source: University of Tennessee

Summary: Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care, complex communication and use of tools for hunting. New research shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be.

Crocodiles (stock image). Credit: © aarstudio / Fotolia

Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care, complex communication and use of tools for hunting.

New University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research published in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be.

Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in UT’s Department of Psychology, has found that crocodiles work as a team to hunt their prey. His research tapped into the power of social media to document such behavior.

Studying predatory behavior by crocodiles and their relatives such as alligators and caimans in the wild is notoriously difficult because they are ambush hunters, have slow metabolisms and eat much less frequently than warm-blooded animals. In addition, they are mostly nocturnal and often hunt in murky, overgrown waters of remote tropical rivers and swamps. Accidental observations of their hunting behavior are often made by non-specialists and remain unpublished or appear in obscure journals.

To overcome these difficulties, Dinets used Facebook and other social media sites to solicit eyewitness accounts from amateur naturalists, crocodile researchers and nonscientists working with crocodiles. He also looked through diaries of scientists and conducted more than 3,000 hours of observations himself.

All that work produced just a handful of observations, some dating back to the 19th century. Still, the observations had something in common — coordination and collaboration among the crocodiles in hunting their prey.

“Despite having been made independently by different people on different continents, these records showed striking similarities. This suggests that the observed phenomena are real, rather than just tall tales or misinterpretation,” said Dinets.

Crocodiles and alligators were observed conducting highly organized game drives. For example, crocodiles would swim in a circle around a shoal of fish, gradually making the circle tighter until the fish were forced into a tight “bait ball.” Then the crocodiles would take turns cutting across the center of the circle, snatching the fish.

Sometimes animals of different size would take up different roles. Larger alligators would drive a fish from the deeper part of a lake into the shallows, where smaller, more agile alligators would block its escape. In one case, a huge saltwater crocodile scared a pig into running off a trail and into a lagoon where two smaller crocodiles were waiting in ambush — the circumstances suggested that the three crocodiles had anticipated each other’s positions and actions without being able to see each other.

“All these observations indicate that crocodilians might belong to a very select club of hunters — just 20 or so species of animals, including humans — capable of coordinating their actions in sophisticated ways and assuming different roles according to each individual’s abilities. In fact, they might be second only to humans in their hunting prowess,” said Dinets.

Dinets said more observations are needed to better understand what exactly the animals are capable of. “And these observations don’t come easily,” he said.

Previous research by Dinets discovered that crocodiles are able to climb trees and use lures such as sticks to hunt prey. More of his crocodile research can be found in his book “Dragon Songs.”


Journal Reference:

  1. Vladimir Dinets. Apparent coordination and collaboration in cooperatively hunting crocodilians. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 2014; 1 DOI:10.1080/03949370.2014.915432

In India, The World’s First Vegetarian City (World Crunch)

After monks went on a hunger strike to push for a citywide ban on animal slaughter, the local government declared Palitana a meat-free zone. But the city’s Muslims are not happy.

Article illustrative imageA cityscape of Palitana

PALITANA — Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world and preaches a path of non-violence towards all living beings. In India, about 5 million people practice it.

“Everyone in this world — whether animal or human being or a very small creature — has all been given the right to live by God,” says Virat Sagar Maharaj, a Jain monk. “So who are we to take away that right from them? This has been written in the holy books of every religion, particularly in Jainism.”

The mountainous town of Palitana in the state of Gujarat is home to one of Jain’s holiest sites, and many residents don’t want any kind of killing happening here. Recently, 200 Jain monks began a hunger strike, threatening to fast until death until the town was declared an entirely vegetarian zone.

The Jain monks on hunger strike — Photo: Shuriah Niazi

“Meat has always been easily available in this city, but it’s against the teaching of our religion,” says Sadhar Sagar, a Jain believer. “We always wanted a complete ban on non-vegetarian food in this holy site.”

They have gotten their wish. On Aug. 14, the Gujarat government declared Palitana a “meat-free zone.” They instituted a complete ban on the sale of meat and eggs and have also outlawed the slaughter of animals within the town’s limits.

It’s a victory for vegetarians, but bad for business for others. Fishermen such as Nishit Mehru have had to stop working entirely. “We have been stopped from selling anything in Palitana,” he says. “They shouldn’t have taken this one-sided decision. How will we survive if we are not allowed to sell fish? The government should not make decisions under pressure.”

On behalf of other fishermen, Valjibhai Mithapura took the issue to the state’s high court, which has called on the state government to explain the ban put in place locally. It will then make a decision about whether this regulation is legal. Gujarat is ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP party, whose leader is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The population of Palitana is 65,000 and about 25% of them are Muslim. Local Muslim religious scholar Syed Jehangir Miyan disagrees with the ban. “There are so many people living in this city, and the majority of them are non-vegetarian,” he says. “Stopping them from eating a non-vegetarian diet is a violation of their rights. We have been living in this city for decades. It is wrong to suddenly put a ban on the whole city now.”

Read the full article: In India, The World’s First Vegetarian City
Worldcrunch – top stories from the world’s best news sources
Follow us: @worldcrunch on Twitter | Worldcrunch on Facebook

Climate change in the news (DISCCRS)

DISCCRSnews Digest, Vol 83, Issue 1 – October 7, 2014

The world is warming faster than we thought – New Scientist – October 5, 2014 – http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26317-the-world-is-warming-faster-than-we-thought.html#.VDMHfCiv1sQ

Past measurements may have missed massive ocean warming – Science – October 5, 2014 – http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/10/past-measurements-may-have-missed-massive-ocean-warming

Scientists speed up analysis of human link to wild weather – Thomson Reuters Foundation – October 2, 2014 – http://www.trust.org/item/20141002110649-q0sm3/?source=fiOtherNews3

World falling behind 2020 plan for nature protection: UN – Reuters – October 6, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/06/us-environment-biodiversity-idUSKCN0HV08Q20141006

Ditch U.N. temperature target for global warming, study says – Reuters – October 1, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/01/us-climatechange-target-idUSKCN0HQ4N620141001

Global officials to issue communique warning of economic risk – Reuters – October 4, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/04/imf-development-idUSL2N0RZ0IV20141004

‘Large firms may be overstating value of earnings by failing to prepare for impact of global warming’ – Business World – October 6, 2014 – http://www.independent.ie/business/world/large-firms-may-be-overstating-value-of-earnings-by-failing-to-prepare-for-impact-of-global-warming-30641946.html

Argonne researchers create more accurate model for greenhouse gases from peatlands – U.S. Department of Energy?s Argonne National Laboratory Press Release (via AAAS EurekAlert) – October 2, 2014 – http://www.anl.gov/articles/argonne-researchers-create-more-accurate-model-greenhouse-gases-peatlands

Canada launches world’s largest commercial carbon-capture project – Reuters – October 1, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/01/canada-carboncapture-idUSL2N0RW1D620141001

Lack of ice forces some 35,000 walruses to chill on Alaska shore – Reuters – October 1, 2014 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/02/us-usa-climatechange-walruses-idUSKCN0HR05520141002

    Related: Walrus mass on Alaska beach – in pictures – Guardian – October 1, 2014 – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2014/oct/01/walrus-mass-on-alaska-beach-in-pictures

    Related: US reroutes flights around Alaska beach in attempt to avoid walrus stampede – Guardian – October 2, 2014 – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/01/walrus-alaska-beach-trampled-death

Team advances understanding of the Greenland Ice Sheet?s meltwater channels – U.S. Department of Energy?s Los Alamos National Laboratory Press Release (via AAAS EurekAlert) – October 1, 2014 – http://www.lanl.gov/discover/news-release-archive/2014/October/10.01-greenlands-ice-sheets.php

Changing Antarctic waters could trigger steep rise in sea levels – Australian Research Council Press Release (via AAAS EurekAlert) – October 1, 2014 – https://www.climatescience.org.au/content/785-changing-antarctic-waters-could-trigger-steep-rise-sea-levels

Oceans Getting Hotter Than Anybody Realized – Climate Central – October 5, 2014 – http://www.climatecentral.org/oceans

Fish failing to adapt to rising carbon dioxide levels in ocean – Guardian – October 6, 2014 – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/06/fish-failing-to-adapt-to-rising-carbon-dioxide-levels-in-ocean

London’s famous red phone box goes green and solar-powered – Thomson Reuters Foundation – October 1, 2014 – http://www.trust.org/item/20141001171721-aapou/?source=fiOtherNews3

Um soco na arrogância da visão seletiva supostamente intelectual (ou, Carta Aberta ao antropólogo Roberto DaMatta) (Marcio Valley)

quinta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2014

Roberto DaMatta, li, ontem (08/10/2014), o seu texto “Um soco na onipotência”, onde você defende que o PT seja “defesnetrado do poder” e revela ter sentido a angústia diminuída ao ver Aécio chegar ao segundo turno dessas eleições. Na sua visão, Aécio, tendo “achado o seu papel e o seu tom”, e “com sua tranquilidade”, irá proporcionar ao Brasil a “descoberta da soma e da continuidade”.
Senti uma enorme tristeza ao término da leitura. Sempre respeitei você e seus pensamentos. O seu texto para mim significou, de fato, um soco de alto teor destrutivo, porém não na onipotência do PT, mas na imagem do antropólogo Roberto DaMatta, que nunca imaginei pudesse abdicar da inteligência para defender uma causa.
Participo pouco do Facebook, mais para divulgar meus textos. Isso porque percebo nas redes sociais uma enorme carência de discussão inteligente e racional dos problemas políticos brasileiros. Trata-se de mera gritaria irracional, com repetição de memes e de conteúdo absolutamente raso. É nessas discussões adialéticas, onde não é possível o contraponto, visto como ofensa, e cuja pretensão é somente a de fazer prevalecer a própria visão e de repelir agressivamente todo pensamento que contrarie essa ótica, que vejo comumente serem usadas essas expressões de mera injúria como “petralhas”, “tucanalhas”, “privataria”, “coxinhas” e, vejam só, “lulopetismo”, a mesma utilizada por você, um intelectual.
Nas redes sociais, busco relevar o mais possível o uso dessas palavras de ordem, fundamentalistas e estimuladoras da divisão e do acirramento, porque não sou insensível ao fato de que esse uso, em geral, surge da falta de oportunidade de acesso a uma cultura de discussões de alto nível. Entretanto, quando percebo que esse mesmo estilo, digamos, “literário” é manipulado por pessoas que deveriam ser o farol a seguir no que concerne à inteligência e à razão, dói no coração e a sensação de impotência no enfrentamento e solução dos problemas públicos cresce na alma. Discussões baratas conduzem a resultados igualmente baratos.
Como um intelectual pode se unir à grita da corrupção generalizada petista assim, de forma tão leviana? Sem o adensamento das causas? Sem uma perspectiva histórica? Sem analisar o sistema legal que proporciona tais desvios? Sem uma análise comparativa? Sem qualquer pronunciamento sobre a existência ou não das ações de combate? A corrupção inexistia no Brasil pré-PT ou nasce a partir da assunção desse partido? A malfadada governabilidade no Brasil – e seus filhos diletos, o fisiologismo e o patrimonialismo – é uma pré-condição do exercício do poder ou somente foi e será praticada pelo PT, mas não por outros partidos que eventualmente venham a conquistas o governo? Em outras palavras, é possível a qualquer partido governar sem se render aos clamores e anseios de sua inexoravelmente necessária base de apoio?
DaMatta, a tristeza que me doeu, ao ler seu texto, veio-me da constatação de que, mesmo um formador de opinião como você, com enorme capilaridade na divulgação através de organismos gigantes como “O Globo”, e que, na condição de intelectual, possui ou deveria possuir capacidade de análise crítica dos fatos presentes e de, a partir dessa capacitação, também de intuição sobre o futuro que poucos podem se arvorar de possuir, ainda assim arrisca-se em relação à própria reputação e biografia ao escrever textos supostamente analíticos, mas cujo conteúdo é exclusivamente panfletário e demonstração de exercício do mais puro e, diria mesmo, infantil “wishful thinking”. De fato, custo a crer, perdoe-me, que você acredite no que escreveu.
Sei que você sabe (ou deveria saber) que um dos primeiros atos de Fernando Henrique Cardoso (desse mesmo PSDB que você agora tão calorosamente articula em favor), assinado somente dezoito dias depois de tomar posse, através do Decreto nº 1.376/1995, foi extinguir a Comissão para Investigar a Corrupção, comissão que havia sido criada em 1993 por Itamar Franco.
Lula, no dia 1º de janeiro de 2003, primeiro dia de seu governo, a partir da antiga Corregedoria-Geral da União, assinou a MP n° 103/2003 (depois Lei n° 10.683/2003), criando a Controladoria-Geral da União e atribuindo ao seu titular a denominação de Ministro de Estado do Controle e da Transparência, o que implicou elevar o status administrativo da pasta e sinalizou aos subalternos o norte a ser orientado.
Nos oito anos de governo do PSDB, com FHC, a Polícia Federal realizou um total de 48 (quarenta e oito) operações, ou seja, uma média de seis operações por ano.
Nos doze anos de governo do PT, essa número saltou para cerca de duas mil e trezentas, o que dá uma média de mais de 190 (cento e noventa) por ano.
Ao assumir, o governo do PT encontrou cerca de cem varas federais. Agora já são mais de quinhentas.
Como você sabe, ou deveria saber, são as operações da Polícia Federal e as varas da Justiça Federal que, no âmbito federal, investigam, combatem e julgam os crimes de corrupção.
Durante o governo do PSDB, havia Geraldo Brindeiro, o “engavetador geral da república”.
Durante o governo do PT poderosos membros do governo em exercício foram investigados, denunciados pelo Procurador Geral da República (não mais um “engavetador”), julgados, condenados e presos por corrupção. Você pode não apreciar a famosa expressão do Lula, “nunca antes na história desse país”, mas, quanto a esse fato, é possível desmenti-la? Quando e em que circunstâncias isso, antes, ocorreu?
De que forma, DaMatta, esses fatos (que você facilmente encontrará em sites idôneos da internet) se coadunam com a sua afirmação de “corrupção deslavada do PT”?
DaMatta, o comum do povo, desprovido dos mesmos mecanismos de acesso à informação e ao conhecimento, pode não saber, como você sabe, que não existem administrações, privadas ou públicas, imunes à prática de ilícitos. O que diferencia uma boa administração de uma ruim é como se lida com os infratores. Há liberdade para as instituições funcionarem, investigando e eventualmente punindo, ou tudo é conduzido para debaixo do tapete por diligentes engavetadores?
Mexa no formigueiro, DaMatta, e isso aumentará o número de formigas visíveis. Você sabe disso, é o “efeito percepção”. Concluir que, porque não se viam as formigas antes, elas não existiam, é exercício da mais perfeita idiotice, desculpável somente aos ignorantes, não aos cultos.
DaMatta, todo o suposto prejuízo do mensalão (não vou entrar no mérito da existência do crime, que já foi julgado pelo STF, mas você sabe que se discute bastante se o dinheiro supostamente “desviado” não se encontra nos cofres da Globo, da Folha, do Estadão e de outros órgãos da imprensa, de forma lícita, através de contratos legítimos de publicidade), não chega a 75 (setenta e cinco) milhões de reais. Sem questionar a validade das privatizações realizadas pelo FHC, há estudiosos do assunto, idôneos, que alegam que o prejuízo com as vendas das estatais, a partir do uso das “moedas podres” e outros “incentivos”, pode ter chegado a cerca de 2 (dois) bilhões e 400 (quatrocentos) milhões de reais. Isso mesmo, entregamos o patrimônio todo e, longe de reduzirmos o déficit público, ainda acrescentamos essa montanha de dinheiro à nossa dívida pública. Porém, muita gente ficou multimilionária a partir das privatizações do PSDB.
Esse valor, DaMatta, corresponde a mais de trinta e duas vezes o valor do mensalão, em valores não atualizados (se atualizar passa fácil de cinquenta vezes). Claro, na sua percepção você não deve considerar isso corrupção, não é mesmo?
Ou, quem sabe, DaMatta, talvez você tenha algo a dizer sobre as privatizações tucanas, sobre a atuação de José Serra em conjunto com sua filha Verônica e seu genro Alexandre Burgeois, sobre Daniel Dantas e sua filha, também Verônica, sobre Ricardo Sérgio de Oliveira no Banco do Brasil (agindo “no limite da irresponsabilidade”), sobre André Lara Rezende e as operações de câmbio, a família Jeressaiti e a aquisição da Telemar, sobre o Banestado.
Só o Banestado, DaMatta, ocorrido em pleno governo FHC, causou um prejuízo de mais de 19 (dezenove) bilhões de dólares, que foram ilegalmente remetidos para os Estados Unidos.
Começo a concordar, DaMatta, que os petistas são incompetentes, pelo menos no quesito “desvio de dinheiro público”.
Enfim, retorno à indagação que fiz acima: a corrupção é uma característica do PT? Se não, onde estão os condenados por corrupção do período do PSDB no governo federal?
E Aécio, DaMatta? Está ele livre de indícios de corrupção em sua passagem pelo governo mineiro? Você bem sabe que Minas Gerais, com o PSDB, foi o berço do mensalão tucano, gerido pelo mesmo indivíduo, o publicitário Marcos Valério, cujos tentáculos se espraiaram em direção ao governdo federal do PT. Além disso, você sabe que Aécio é réu, acusado de improbidade administrativa, em ação civil pública movida pelo Ministério Público Estadual, em razão de desvio de 4 (quatro) bilhões e 300 (trezentos) milhões de reais da área da saúde em Minas, não sabe? E o aeroporto construído com dinheiro público em área desapropriada de parte da fazenda de seu tio, em Minas, ouviu falar sobre isso?
Bom, tudo isso eu relato, DaMatta, em função de sua visão estreita e seletiva sobre a corrupção do PT, olvidando-se (de forma proposital?) daquela oriunda dos quadros tucanos. Em princípio, não me parece o papel de um intelectual. Passável para uma pessoa comum, para redatores de Facebook, essa visão reducionista é, no meu entender, vergonhosa para um erudito.
Até compreendo que existam na mídia os “experts” (substitutos de segunda linha dos verdadeiros intelectuais) vendendo suas falsas expertises a soldo, uma para cada gosto, mas não acredito que seja o seu caso. Prefiro acreditar num ato menos pensado, numa torcida apaixonada, passional, talvez resultado de algum elemento pessoal por mim desconhecido, como, por exemplo, ter sido prejudicado individualmente pelo PT de alguma forma ou possuir relação estreita com alguém do PSDB. Ainda assim, não há justificativa para a edição de um panfleto tão raso, tão ao gosto da Rede Globo, da Folha e do Estadão e da revista Veja. Você, DaMatta, um intelectual cujo respeito não será por mim perdido por um deslize, infelizmente pôs-se ombro a ombro com o nível de um Reinaldo Azevedo ou de um Augusto Nunes. Tornou-se um Jabor. Se insistir nessa linha, será nivelado, torço para que isso não ocorra, a um Merval Pereira, o imortal da coletânea única.
DaMatta, retorne à sanidade intelectual. Não para infalivelmente apoiar o PT, mas para, se for o caso, rejeitá-lo pelos motivos lógicos e racionais corretos, ou seja, fundamentando sua contrariedade à linha econômica petista; ou à forma como ocorre, hoje, o enfrentamento da questão social; ou, ainda, pelas teses de relações internacionais atualmente defendidas pelo Itamaraty; ou por qualquer outra que você, livremente e como cidadão, considerar não ser adequada ao seu pensamento.
O que não dá é para alcunhar o PT de “dono espúrio de um Brasil que é de todos nós”, uma frase de efeito cujo único objetivo é o aplauso fácil. Ou de falar em “aparelhamento do Estado”, um mantra que pode ser considerado bonitinho para aqueles que ignoram as formas pelas quais se materializam os processos políticos, mas que se torna ridículo se proferido por um intelectual ciente de que o aparelhamento do Estado faz parte do processo democrático, uma vez que todo partido que chega ao poder preenche os espaços de indicação política existentes no governo justamente como meio de oferecer aos eleitores a direção política que eles escolheram através da eleição livre. Ou você, DaMatta, acha que o PSDB não “aparelhou” o governo federal, quando lá esteve, ou, atualmente, não nomeou todo e cada um dos cargos políticos de livre nomeação no Estado de São Paulo durante esses vinte anos de seu governo (algo a dizer sobre a “perpetuação no poder” em São Paulo?).
Vamos nos ater à discussão política, então. Vamos falar de economia, de saúde, de segurança pública, de educação e de quem consideramos mais apto a enfrentar esses enormes desafios. Porque, no tema corrupção, DaMatta, e estou afirmando algo que sei que você de antemão sabe, somente existem telhados de vidro.
Não desça ao nível dos tabloides. Você é maior do que eles. Ainda acredito e torço por você.
Do seu leitor, Marcio Valley.

Glasgow becomes first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels (The Guardian)

University court votes to divest £18m from fossil fuel industry in what campaigners call ‘dramatic beachhead’

The Guardian, Wednesday 8 October 2014 16.20 BST

Divest and Fossil free student campaign in GlasgowGlasgow University students hold a silent protest to raise awareness of the divestment from fossil fuels campaign. Photograph: Courtesy People & Planet

Glasgow University has become the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry, in a turning point for the British arm of the student-led global divestment movement.

After 12 months of campaigning, led by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and involving over 1,300 students, the university court on Wednesday voted to begin divesting £18m from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m.

Describing the result as “a dramatic beachhead for the divestment movement”, American environmentalist Bill McKibben said that it sent a powerful signal that Europe would be “just as powerful in this fight as Australia and North America”.

The founder of climate campaign group 350.org added: “That it comes from Glasgow, which has as much claim to birthing the industrial revolution as any city on Earth, makes it that much more special. Everyone from the Rockefellers on down is realising it’s time to move on.”

As of last month, more than 800 global investors – including foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers, religious groups, healthcare organisations, universities and local governments – have pledged to withdraw a total of $50bn (£31bn) from fossil fuel investments over the next five years as a result of the campaign which began on college campuses in the United States three years ago.

Writer and activist Naomi Klein said that Glasgow University had joined “a fast-growing global movement providing much-needed hope to the prospect of climate action.”

“Students around the world are making it clear that the institutions entrusted to prepare them for the future cannot simultaneously bet against their future by profiting from corporations that plan to burn many times more carbon than our atmosphere can safely absorb,” said Klein.

“They are sending an unequivocal message that fossil fuel profits are illegitimate – on par with tobacco and arms profits – and that brings us a significant step closer to demanding that our politicians sever ties with this rogue industry and implement bold climate policies based on a clear, progressive ‘polluter pays’ principle.’”

Glasgow University joins thirteen US universities, including Stanford, which have already committed to divest from the fossil fuel industry. In the UK, student unions at Imperial College and University College, London, are demanding that their institutions take similar action. The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), at the University of London, has agreed to a temporary freeze on investment in advance of a decision on full divestment to be taken later this year.

Decisions are also imminent from the University of Edinburgh, which conducted a staff and student consultation that was overwhelmingly in support of divestment. Oxford University and its colleges, which have an endowment wealth of £3.8bn, the largest of any higher education institution in the UK, is currently conducting a staff-only consultation, after almost 2,000 students and academics joined a campaign calling for divestment.

Andrew Taylor of the People and Planet Network, which has launched over fifty ‘Fossil Free’ campaigns across the UK involving over 15,000 students in the past year, said: “Divestment now has a firm foothold in the UK. Student and academic pressure to get out of fossil fuels is building across the sector. It’s time to stop profiting from wrecking the climate, whether you’re an institution with lots of money like Oxford or Edinburgh, or a world leader in climate research such as the University of East Anglia. Glasgow has helped make the moral case crystal clear and we expect more universities to very soon put their money where their research is.”

Founded in 2011 across just half a dozen US college campuses, the fossil fuel divestment movement has gained remarkable traction over a relatively short period of time. A study by Oxford University last autumn found that it had grown faster than any previous divestment campaign, including those relating to apartheid, armaments and tobacco.

The campaign has recently enjoyed a succession of symbolic boosts.

Last month, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune announced that they were withdrawing funds from fossil fuel investments and in July the World Council of Churches, which represents over half a billion Christians worldwide, decided to pull its investments out of fossil fuel companies.

Writing in the Guardian in April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged that “people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change”.

‘Superglue’ for the atmosphere: How sulfuric acid increases cloud formation (Science Daily)

Date: October 8, 2014

Source: Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

Summary: It has been known for several years that sulfuric acid contributes to the formation of tiny aerosol particles, which play an important role in the formation of clouds. A new study shows that dimethylamine can tremendously enhance new particle formation. The formation of neutral (i.e. uncharged) nucleating clusters of sulfuric acid and dimethylamine was observed for the first time.

Clouds. Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan

It has been known for several years that sulfuric acid contributes to the formation of tiny aerosol particles, which play an important role in the formation of clouds. The new study by Kürten et al. shows that dimethylamine can tremendously enhance new particle formation. The formation of neutral (i.e. uncharged) nucleating clusters of sulfuric acid and dimethylamine was observed for the first time.

Previously, it was only possible to detect neutral clusters containing up to two sulfuric acid molecules. However, in the present study molecular clusters containing up to 14 sulfuric acid and 16 dimethylamine molecules were detected and their growth by attachment of individual molecules was observed in real-time starting from just one molecule. Moreover, these measurements were made at concentrations of sulfuric acid and dimethylamine corresponding to atmospheric levels (less than 1 molecule of sulfuric acid per 1 x 1013 molecules of air).

The capability of sulfuric acid molecules together with water and ammonia to form clusters and particles has been recognized for several years. However, clusters which form in this manner can vaporize under the conditions which exist in the atmosphere. In contrast, the system of sulfuric acid and dimethylamine forms particles much more efficiently because even the smallest clusters are essentially stable against evaporation. In this respect dimethylamine can act as “superglue” because when interacting with sulfuric acid every collision between a cluster and a sulfuric acid molecule bonds them together irreversibly. Sulphuric acid as well as amines in the present day atmosphere have mainly anthropogenic sources.

Sulphuric acid is derived mainly from the oxidation of sulphur dioxide while amines stem, for example, from animal husbandry. The method used to measure the neutral clusters utilizes a combination of a mass spectrometer and a chemical ionization source, which was developed by the University of Frankfurt and the University of Helsinki. The measurements were made by an international collaboration at the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) chamber at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

The results allow for very detailed insight into a chemical system which could be relevant for atmospheric particle formation. Aerosol particles influence Earth’s climate through cloud formation: Clouds can only form if so-called cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) are present, which act as seeds for condensing water molecules. Globally about half the CCN originate from a secondary process which involves the formation of small clusters and particles in the very first step followed by growth to sizes of at least 50 nanometers.

The observed process of particle formation from sulfuric acid and dimethylamine could also be relevant for the formation of CCN. A high concentration of CCN generally leads to the formation of clouds with a high concentration of small droplets; whereas fewer CCN lead to clouds with few large droplets. Earth’s radiation budget, climate as well as precipitation patterns can be influenced in this manner. The deployed method will also open a new window for future measurements of particle formation in other chemical systems.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Kurten, T. Jokinen, M. Simon, M. Sipila, N. Sarnela, H. Junninen, A. Adamov, J. Almeida, A. Amorim, F. Bianchi, M. Breitenlechner, J. Dommen, N. M. Donahue, J. Duplissy, S. Ehrhart, R. C. Flagan, A. Franchin, J. Hakala, A. Hansel, M. Heinritzi, M. Hutterli, J. Kangasluoma, J. Kirkby, A. Laaksonen, K. Lehtipalo, M. Leiminger, V. Makhmutov, S. Mathot, A. Onnela, T. Petaja, A. P. Praplan, F. Riccobono, M. P. Rissanen, L. Rondo, S. Schobesberger, J. H. Seinfeld, G. Steiner, A. Tome, J. Trostl, P. M. Winkler, C. Williamson, D. Wimmer, P. Ye, U. Baltensperger, K. S. Carslaw, M. Kulmala, D. R. Worsnop, J. Curtius. Neutral molecular cluster formation of sulfuric acid-dimethylamine observed in real time under atmospheric conditions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1404853111

Antarctic sea ice reaches new record maximum (Science Daily)

Date: October 8, 2014

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Summary: Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map the extent in the late 1970s.

On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr

Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s. The upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The new Antarctic sea ice record reflects the diversity and complexity of Earth’s environments, said NASA researchers. Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has referred to changes in sea ice coverage as a microcosm of global climate change. Just as the temperatures in some regions of the planet are colder than average, even in our warming world, Antarctic sea ice has been increasing and bucking the overall trend of ice loss.

“The planet as a whole is doing what was expected in terms of warming. Sea ice as a whole is decreasing as expected, but just like with global warming, not every location with sea ice will have a downward trend in ice extent,” Parkinson said.

Since the late 1970s, the Arctic has lost an average of 20,800 square miles (53,900 square kilometers) of ice a year; the Antarctic has gained an average of 7,300 square miles (18,900 sq km). On Sept. 19 this year, for the first time ever since 1979, Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 7.72 million square miles (20 million square kilometers), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The ice extent stayed above this benchmark extent for several days. The average maximum extent between 1981 and 2010 was 7.23 million square miles (18.72 million square kilometers).

The single-day maximum extent this year was reached on Sept. 20, according to NSIDC data, when the sea ice covered 7.78 million square miles (20.14 million square kilometers). This year’s five-day average maximum was reached on Sept. 22, when sea ice covered 7.76 million square miles (20.11 million square kilometers), according to NSIDC.

A warming climate changes weather patterns, said Walt Meier, a research scientist at Goddard. Sometimes those weather patterns will bring cooler air to some areas. And in the Antarctic, where sea ice circles the continent and covers such a large area, it doesn’t take that much additional ice extent to set a new record.

“Part of it is just the geography and geometry. With no northern barrier around the whole perimeter of the ice, the ice can easily expand if conditions are favorable,” he said.

Researchers are investigating a number of other possible explanations as well. One clue, Parkinson said, could be found around the Antarctic Peninsula — a finger of land stretching up toward South America. There, the temperatures are warming, and in the Bellingshausen Sea just to the west of the peninsula the sea ice is shrinking. Beyond the Bellingshausen Sea and past the Amundsen Sea, lies the Ross Sea — where much of the sea ice growth is occurring.

That suggests that a low-pressure system centered in the Amundsen Sea could be intensifying or becoming more frequent in the area, she said — changing the wind patterns and circulating warm air over the peninsula, while sweeping cold air from the Antarctic continent over the Ross Sea. This, and other wind and lower atmospheric pattern changes, could be influenced by the ozone hole higher up in the atmosphere — a possibility that has received scientific attention in the past several years, Parkinson said.

“The winds really play a big role,” Meier said. They whip around the continent, constantly pushing the thin ice. And if they change direction or get stronger in a more northward direction, he said, they push the ice further and grow the extent. When researchers measure ice extent, they look for areas of ocean where at least 15 percent is covered by sea ice.

While scientists have observed some stronger-than-normal pressure systems — which increase winds — over the last month or so, that element alone is probably not the reason for this year’s record extent, Meier said. To better understand this year and the overall increase in Antarctic sea ice, scientists are looking at other possibilities as well.

Melting ice on the edges of the Antarctic continent could be leading to more fresh, just-above-freezing water, which makes refreezing into sea ice easier, Parkinson said. Or changes in water circulation patterns, bringing colder waters up to the surface around the landmass, could help grow more ice.

Snowfall could be a factor as well, Meier said. Snow landing on thin ice can actually push the thin ice below the water, which then allows cold ocean water to seep up through the ice and flood the snow — leading to a slushy mixture that freezes in the cold atmosphere and adds to the thickness of the ice. This new, thicker ice would be more resilient to melting.

“There hasn’t been one explanation yet that I’d say has become a consensus, where people say, ‘We’ve nailed it, this is why it’s happening,'” Parkinson said. “Our models are improving, but they’re far from perfect. One by one, scientists are figuring out that particular variables are more important than we thought years ago, and one by one those variables are getting incorporated into the models.”

For Antarctica, key variables include the atmospheric and oceanic conditions, as well as the effects of an icy land surface, changing atmospheric chemistry, the ozone hole, months of darkness and more.

“Its really not surprising to people in the climate field that not every location on the face of Earth is acting as expected — it would be amazing if everything did,” Parkinson said. “The Antarctic sea ice is one of those areas where things have not gone entirely as expected. So it’s natural for scientists to ask, ‘OK, this isn’t what we expected, now how can we explain it?'”

Amputees discern familiar sensations across prosthetic hand (Science Daily)

Date: October 8, 2014

Source: Case Western Reserve University

Summary: Patients connected to a new prosthetic system said they ‘felt’ their hands for the first time since they lost them in accidents. In the ensuing months, they began feeling sensations that were familiar and were able to control their prosthetic hands with more — well — dexterity.

Medical researchers are helping restore the sense of touch in amputees. Credit: Image courtesy of Case Western Reserve University

Even before he lost his right hand to an industrial accident 4 years ago, Igor Spetic had family open his medicine bottles. Cotton balls give him goose bumps.

Now, blindfolded during an experiment, he feels his arm hairs rise when a researcher brushes the back of his prosthetic hand with a cotton ball.

Spetic, of course, can’t feel the ball. But patterns of electric signals are sent by a computer into nerves in his arm and to his brain, which tells him different. “I knew immediately it was cotton,” he said.

That’s one of several types of sensation Spetic, of Madison, Ohio, can feel with the prosthetic system being developed by Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Spetic was excited just to “feel” again, and quickly received an unexpected benefit. The phantom pain he’d suffered, which he’s described as a vice crushing his closed fist, subsided almost completely. A second patient, who had less phantom pain after losing his right hand and much of his forearm in an accident, said his, too, is nearly gone.

Despite having phantom pain, both men said that the first time they were connected to the system and received the electrical stimulation, was the first time they’d felt their hands since their accidents. In the ensuing months, they began feeling sensations that were familiar and were able to control their prosthetic hands with more — well — dexterity.

To watch a video of the research, click here: http://youtu.be/l7jht5vvzR4.

“The sense of touch is one of the ways we interact with objects around us,” said Dustin Tyler, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve and director of the research. “Our goal is not just to restore function, but to build a reconnection to the world. This is long-lasting, chronic restoration of sensation over multiple points across the hand.”

“The work reactivates areas of the brain that produce the sense of touch, said Tyler, who is also associate director of the Advanced Platform Technology Center at the Cleveland VA. “When the hand is lost, the inputs that switched on these areas were lost.”

How the system works and the results will be published online in the journal Science Translational Medicine Oct. 8.

“The sense of touch actually gets better,” said Keith Vonderhuevel, of Sidney, Ohio, who lost his hand in 2005 and had the system implanted in January 2013. “They change things on the computer to change the sensation.

“One time,” he said, “it felt like water running across the back of my hand.”

The system, which is limited to the lab at this point, uses electrical stimulation to give the sense of feeling. But there are key differences from other reported efforts.

First, the nerves that used to relay the sense of touch to the brain are stimulated by contact points on cuffs that encircle major nerve bundles in the arm, not by electrodes inserted through the protective nerve membranes.

Surgeons Michael W Keith, MD and J. Robert Anderson, MD, from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and Cleveland VA, implanted three electrode cuffs in Spetic’s forearm, enabling him to feel 19 distinct points; and two cuffs in Vonderhuevel’s upper arm, enabling him to feel 16 distinct locations.

Second, when they began the study, the sensation Spetic felt when a sensor was touched was a tingle. To provide more natural sensations, the research team has developed algorithms that convert the input from sensors taped to a patient’s hand into varying patterns and intensities of electrical signals. The sensors themselves aren’t sophisticated enough to discern textures, they detect only pressure.

The different signal patterns, passed through the cuffs, are read as different stimuli by the brain. The scientists continue to fine-tune the patterns, and Spetic and Vonderhuevel appear to be becoming more attuned to them.

Third, the system has worked for 2 ½ years in Spetic and 1½ in Vonderhueval. Other research has reported sensation lasting one month and, in some cases, the ability to feel began to fade over weeks.

A blindfolded Vonderhuevel has held grapes or cherries in his prosthetic hand — the signals enabling him to gauge how tightly he’s squeezing — and pulled out the stems.

“When the sensation’s on, it’s not too hard,” he said. “When it’s off, you make a lot of grape juice.”

Different signal patterns interpreted as sandpaper, a smooth surface and a ridged surface enabled a blindfolded Spetic to discern each as they were applied to his hand. And when researchers touched two different locations with two different textures at the same time, he could discern the type and location of each.

Tyler believes that everyone creates a map of sensations from their life history that enables them to correlate an input to a given sensation.

“I don’t presume the stimuli we’re giving is hitting the spots on the map exactly, but they’re familiar enough that the brain identifies what it is,” he said.

Because of Vonderheuval’s and Spetic’s continuing progress, Tyler is hopeful the method can lead to a lifetime of use. He’s optimistic his team can develop a system a patient could use at home, within five years.

In addition to hand prosthetics, Tyler believes the technology can be used to help those using prosthetic legs receive input from the ground and adjust to gravel or uneven surfaces. Beyond that, the neural interfacing and new stimulation techniques may be useful in controlling tremors, deep brain stimulation and more.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. W. Tan, M. A. Schiefer, M. W. Keith, J. R. Anderson, J. Tyler, D. J. Tyler. A neural interface provides long-term stable natural touch perception. Science Translational Medicine, 2014; 6 (257): 257ra138 DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3008669

*   *   *

Mind-controlled prosthetic arms that work in daily life are now a reality (Science Daily)

Date: October 8, 2014

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

Summary: For the first time, robotic prostheses controlled via implanted neuromuscular interfaces have become a clinical reality. A novel osseointegrated (bone-anchored) implant system gives patients new opportunities in their daily life and professional activities.


For the first time, robotic prostheses controlled via implanted neuromuscular interfaces have become a clinical reality. Credit: Image courtesy of Chalmers University of Technology

For the first time, robotic prostheses controlled via implanted neuromuscular interfaces have become a clinical reality. A novel osseointegrated (bone-anchored) implant system gives patients new opportunities in their daily life and professional activities.

In January 2013 a Swedish arm amputee was the first person in the world to receive a prosthesis with a direct connection to bone, nerves and muscles. An article about this achievement and its long-term stability will now be published in the Science Translational Medicine journal.

“Going beyond the lab to allow the patient to face real-world challenges is the main contribution of this work,” says Max Ortiz Catalan, research scientist at Chalmers University of Technology and leading author of the publication.

“We have used osseointegration to create a long-term stable fusion between man and machine, where we have integrated them at different levels. The artificial arm is directly attached to the skeleton, thus providing mechanical stability. Then the human’s biological control system, that is nerves and muscles, is also interfaced to the machine’s control system via neuromuscular electrodes. This creates an intimate union between the body and the machine; between biology and mechatronics.”

The direct skeletal attachment is created by what is known as osseointegration, a technology in limb prostheses pioneered by associate professor Rickard Brånemark and his colleagues at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Rickard Brånemark led the surgical implantation and collaborated closely with Max Ortiz Catalan and Professor Bo Håkansson at Chalmers University of Technology on this project.

The patient’s arm was amputated over ten years ago. Before the surgery, his prosthesis was controlled via electrodes placed over the skin. Robotic prostheses can be very advanced, but such a control system makes them unreliable and limits their functionality, and patients commonly reject them as a result.

Now, the patient has been given a control system that is directly connected to his own. He has a physically challenging job as a truck driver in northern Sweden, and since the surgery he has experienced that he can cope with all the situations he faces; everything from clamping his trailer load and operating machinery, to unpacking eggs and tying his children’s skates, regardless of the environmental conditions (read more about the benefits of the new technology below).

The patient is also one of the first in the world to take part in an effort to achieve long-term sensation via the prosthesis. Because the implant is a bidirectional interface, it can also be used to send signals in the opposite direction — from the prosthetic arm to the brain. This is the researchers’ next step, to clinically implement their findings on sensory feedback.

“Reliable communication between the prosthesis and the body has been the missing link for the clinical implementation of neural control and sensory feedback, and this is now in place,” says Max Ortiz Catalan. “So far we have shown that the patient has a long-term stable ability to perceive touch in different locations in the missing hand. Intuitive sensory feedback and control are crucial for interacting with the environment, for example to reliably hold an object despite disturbances or uncertainty. Today, no patient walks around with a prosthesis that provides such information, but we are working towards changing that in the very short term.”

The researchers plan to treat more patients with the novel technology later this year.

“We see this technology as an important step towards more natural control of artificial limbs,” says Max Ortiz Catalan. “It is the missing link for allowing sophisticated neural interfaces to control sophisticated prostheses. So far, this has only been possible in short experiments within controlled environments.”

More about: How the technology works

The new technology is based on the OPRA treatment (osseointegrated prosthesis for the rehabilitation of amputees), where a titanium implant is surgically inserted into the bone and becomes fixated to it by a process known as osseointegration (Osseo = bone). A percutaneous component (abutment) is then attached to the titanium implant to serve as a metallic bone extension, where the prosthesis is then fixated. Electrodes are implanted in nerves and muscles as the interfaces to the biological control system. These electrodes record signals which are transmitted via the osseointegrated implant to the prostheses, where the signals are finally decoded and translated into motions.

More about: Benefits of the new technology, compared to socket prostheses

Direct skeletal attachment by osseointegration means:

  • Increased range of motion since there are no physical limitations by the socket — the patient can move the remaining joints freely
  • Elimination of sores and pain caused by the constant pressure from the socket
  • Stable and easy attachment/detachment
  • Increased sensory feedback due to the direct transmission of forces and vibrations to the bone (osseoperception)
  • The prosthesis can be worn all day, every day
  • No socket adjustments required (there is no socket)

Implanting electrodes in nerves and muscles means that:

  • Due to the intimate connection, the patients can control the prosthesis with less effort and more precisely, and can thus handle smaller and more delicate items.
  • The close proximity between source and electrode also prevents activity from other muscles from interfering (cross-talk), so that the patient can move the arm to any position and still maintain control of the prosthesis.
  • More motor signals can be obtained from muscles and nerves, so that more movements can be intuitively controlled in the prosthesis.
  • After the first fitting of the controller, little or no recalibration is required because there is no need to reposition the electrodes on every occasion the prosthesis is worn (as opposed to superficial electrodes).
  • Since the electrodes are implanted rather than placed over the skin, control is not affected by environmental conditions (cold and heat) that change the skin state, or by limb motions that displace the skin over the muscles. The control is also resilient to electromagnetic interference (noise from other electric devices or power lines) as the electrodes are shielded by the body itself.
  • Electrodes in the nerves can be used to send signals to the brain as sensations coming from the prostheses.

Journal Reference:

  1. M. Ortiz-Catalan, B. Hakansson, R. Branemark. An osseointegrated human-machine gateway for long-term sensory feedback and motor control of artificial limbs. Science Translational Medicine, 2014; 6 (257): 257re6 DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3008933

‘El rayo fue un castigo’: Mamo que sobrevivió a tragedia de la Sierra (El Tiempo)

EL TIEMPO visitó el pueblo donde murieron 11 indígenas y habló con su máxima autoridad.

Por:   |

2:29 p.m. | 7 de octubre de 2014

En la foto, el mamo Ramón Gil, que perdió a su hijo Juan Ramón Gil cuando cayó el rayo que mató a 11 indígenas.

Foto: Carlos Capella / EL TIEMPO. En la foto, el mamo Ramón Gil, que perdió a su hijo Juan Ramón Gil cuando cayó el rayo que mató a 11 indígenas.

El mamo Ramón Gil, la máxima autoridad de los wiwa y uno de los indígenas tradicionales más conocidos de la Sierra Nevada, dice que hace dos años la naturaleza le había advertido que debían pagar por tantas talas y saqueos que se han realizado en estas montañas. (Lea también: Llegan ayudas a comunidad wiwa tras caída de rayo en Sierra Nevada)

Esa advertencia se hizo realidad cuando en la madrugada de este lunes, asegura el mamo, un rayo cayó sobre la unguma, choza ceremonial donde estaban reunidos unos 50 wiwas de la cuenca media del río Guachaca, y mató a 11 indígenas y dejó a otros 20 con heridas.

La comunidad wiwa de la sierra nevada de Santa Marta se repone de la tragedia que ocasionó la caída de un rayo que mató 11 personas y dejó 20 heridos. Foto: CEET

Luego de la tragedia, en la noche del lunes, los indígenas se fueron del pueblo por temor a que otro rayo volviera a castigarlos. Los cadáveres fueron recogidos en una choza y acomodados en el piso, donde pasaron la noche. Hoy, en la mañana, cuando escucharon el sonido del helicóptero volvieron a bajar de las montañas al pueblo. (Lea también: ‘Un trueno retumbó en la Sierra y en segundos se prendió la choza’)

“El domingo a las seis de la tarde, cuando cayeron los primeros relámpagos, sentí que estaban molestos, pidiendo que le devuelvan a la naturaleza todo lo que se han llevado de la Sierra”, contó el hombre ayer entre las cenizas de la choza ceremonial, de donde aún, pese a los últimos aguaceros, se levantan pequeñas columnas de humo que salen de la tierra y el olor a quemado invade las 40 chozas de kemakúmake, el pueblo ancestral que llora por la tragedia. (Vea las fotos de la zona donde cayó el rayo y la operación para evacuar a los heridos)

En su relato, Ramón, que perdió a su hijo, recuerda que le dijo a la comunidad que el relámpago necesitaba un pago, por tantos árboles talados y cuarzo saqueado. También les había dicho que desde hace tiempo la naturaleza le estaba pidiendo que le cobrara a todos aquellos que habían profanado esos lugares sagrados y él no lo había hecho. (Vea en un mapa los 2.900 rayos que cayeron en la zona de la Sierra Nevada)

“Le dije a la comunidad, el trueno está bravo, dice que nos mandó el primer castigo el verano, pero como suplicamos mucho, manda el aguacero, pero no pagamos y ahora va a venir guerra de la naturaleza y de la humanidad”, asegura el viejo mamo que le dijo la naturaleza.

Esa noche, él estaba hablando con los hombres del pueblo en la choza ceremonial, cuando sintió como la luz iluminó el lugar y todos fueron cayendo lentamente. “Cuando la candela vino hacia mí se me nubló la vista. Me levanté, me dio rabia y lo insulté. A los pocos minutos solo hubo caos y el fuego se apoderó del lugar”, recuerda . Los indígenas que llegaron de las otras chozas tuvieron que sacar los cuerpos para evitar que las llamas los consumieran. (Lea también: Unas 100 personas mueren por rayos en Colombia cada año)

“Le quitamos 11 para que reflexione, analice y hable con los hermanitos menores y les advierta también”, dice Ramón que es el mensaje de la naturaleza.

Pide reunión con mamos

El mamo Ramón le pidió al Gobierno que los ayude para citar un encuentro de por lo menos un mes con los mamos ancestrales y espirituales de los cuatro pueblos indígenas de la Sierra Nevada: koguis, arhuacos, kankuamos y wiwas, para que analicen como autoridades todas las problemáticas que se viven en estos momentos en los resguardos.

Luego de la tragedia, en la noche del lunes, los indígenas se fueron del pueblo por temor a que otro rayo volviera a castigarlos. Foto CEET

También reconoció que los cabildos gobernadores de estos pueblos se han convertido en una especie de talanquera para que las autoridades espirituales y guías de estos pueblos se reúnan. “Necesitamos analizar y unificar un criterio, interna y espiritualmente, ya que los cabildos gobernadores no se ponen de acuerdo”, dijo.

Ayer, Ramón se lamentó de no saber leer ni escribir en español para poder hacer una cartilla para que todos entiendan y comprendan cuál es el mensaje que la naturaleza les da a los mamos y así respeten los últimos recursos que quedan en la Sierra Nevada.

Siguen llegando ayudas

A las 6:30 a.m. de hoy salió el primer helicóptero con alimentos, frazadas, medicamentos y hamacas recogidos por la Defensa Civil y enviados por la Unidad Nacional de Riesgo.

Desde la primera División del Ejército, entre ayer hoy, unos nueve viajes se hicieron en helicópteros sacando heridos, llevando ayudas y periodistas. “No solamente estamos para la guerra, también para ayudas humanitarias”, dijo el capitán del Ejército, Ómar Pardo, quien está al frente de los vuelos.

Ejército y Policía acompañados de la Defensa Civil llevan ayudas. Foto: CEET

A su turno, el coronel Luis Alfonso Quintero Parada, comandante de la Policía Metropolitana de Santa Marta, encabezó con la Policía Judicial la última inspección a los cadáveres, que hoy mismo serán entregados a la comunidad.

“Tenemos un equipo medico revisando a los indígenas, tal como lo solicitaron, para brindarles un apoyo con medicamento y curación, al equipo de Policía judicial se les sumaron dos médicos forenses de Barranquilla, para apoyar el trabajo”, dijo el oficial.

L​eonardo Herrera Delghams
Enviado especial de EL TIEMPO
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Plantio de florestas é estratégia de enfrentamento do aquecimento global (Fapesp)

08 de outubro de 2014

Por Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – Em um artigo publicado na seção de opinião do jornal norte-americano The New York Times, em 19 de setembro, Nadine Unger, professora da Yale University, afirmou serem fracas as evidências científicas sobre os benefícios proporcionados pelo reflorestamento e pela redução do desmatamento na mitigação das mudanças climáticas.

O texto causou forte reação na comunidade científica. No dia 22 de setembro, um grupo formado por 31 pesquisadores – vários deles membros do Painel Intergovernamental de Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC) da Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) – divulgou uma carta aberta na qual discordam veementemente das declarações feitas por Unger.

Uma versão resumida do texto foi publicada na seção de opinião do The New York Times no dia 23 de setembro, mesma data em que começou em Nova York a Cúpula da Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) sobre o Clima.

Na carta resposta, o grupo de cientistas contesta a afirmação de Unger, de que estaria incorreta a “sabedoria convencional” segundo a qual o plantio de árvores auxilia no combate ao aquecimento global. Na avaliação dela, a medida poderia até mesmo agravar o problema climático.

De acordo com os cientistas, as florestas promovem um efeito de resfriamento do clima porque armazenam vastas quantidades de carbono em troncos, galhos, folhas e são capazes de manter esse elemento químico fora da atmosfera enquanto permanecerem intactas e saudáveis.

Segundo o grupo, as florestas também resfriam a atmosfera porque convertem a energia solar em vapor d’água, o que aumenta a refletividade da radiação solar por meio da formação de nuvens, fato negligenciado no trabalho de Unger. Concordam, em parte, com a afirmação da professora de Química Atmosférica em Yale, de que “as cores escuras das árvores absorvem maior quantidade de energia solar e aumentam a temperatura da superfície terrestre”.

Unger afirmou que plantar árvores nos trópicos poderia promover o resfriamento, mas em regiões mais frias causaria aquecimento.

“Ela (Unger) aponta corretamente que florestas refletem menos energia solar do que a neve, as pedras, as pastagens ou o solo, mas ignora o efeito das florestas de aumentar a refletividade do céu acima da terra, por meio das nuvens. Esse efeito é maior nos trópicos”, afirmaram os cientistas.

Unger disse não haver consenso científico em relação aos impactos da mudança de uso da terra promovida pela expansão da agricultura e se o desmatamento resultante teria contribuído para esfriar ou aquecer o planeta.

“Não podemos prever com certeza que o reflorestamento em larga escala ajudaria a controlar as temperaturas em elevação”, disse ela. Argumentos semelhantes já haviam sido apresentados pela cientista em artigo publicado em agosto na Nature Climate Change.

Ainda segundo Unger, os compostos orgânicos voláteis (VOCs, na sigla em inglês) emitidos pelas árvores em resposta a estressores ambientais interagem com poluentes oriundos da queima de combustíveis fósseis aumentando a produção de gases-estufa como metano e ozônio.

Por último, a cientista de Yale afirmou que o carbono sequestrado pelas árvores durante seu crescimento retorna à atmosfera quando elas morrem e que o oxigênio produzido durante a fotossíntese é consumido pela vegetação durante a respiração noturna. “A Amazônia é um sistema fechado que consome seu próprio carbono e oxigênio”, argumentou.

Benefícios indiscutíveis

A carta resposta divulgada pelos cientistas ressalta que os próprios estudos de Unger mostraram que qualquer potencial efeito de resfriamento promovido pela redução das emissões de compostos orgânicos voláteis resultante do corte de árvores seria superado pelo efeito de aquecimento promovido pelas emissões de carbono causadas pelo desmatamento.

“Esta semana, as negociações das Nações Unidas sobre o clima abordam a importância de dar continuidade aos esforços para frear a degradação das florestas tropicais, que são uma contribuição essencial e barata para a mitigação das mudanças climáticas. A base científica para essa importante peça da solução do problema climático é sólida. Nós discordamos fortemente da mensagem central da professora Unger. Concordamos, no entanto, com a afirmação feita por ela de que as florestas oferecem benefícios indiscutíveis para a biodiversidade”, concluem os cientistas.

O grupo de autores é liderado por Daniel Nepstad, diretor executivo do Earth Innovation Institute, dos Estados Unidos, um dos fundadores do Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (Ipam) e um dos autores do quinto relatório divulgado pelo IPCC.

Também fazem parte do grupo Reynaldo Victoria, professor da Universidade de São Paulo (USP) e membro da coordenação do Programa FAPESP de Pesquisa sobre Mudanças Climáticas Globais, e Paulo Artaxo, professor da USP e um dos autores do quinto relatório do IPCC.

“O artigo divulgado por Unger na revista Nature Climate Change tem erros elementares e não leva em conta aspectos fundamentais, como a importância das florestas tropicais na formação de nuvens, que altera a refletividade da superfície e também atua no controle do ciclo hidrológico”, disse Artaxo à Agência FAPESP.

“Esse episódio mostra como a ciência, quando negligencia aspectos importantes, pode ser muito prejudicial do ponto de vista de políticas públicas. Reflorestamento e redução do desmatamento são umas das melhores estratégias de redução dos efeitos do aquecimento global”, afirmou.

Killer whales learn to communicate like dolphins (Science Daily)

Date: October 7, 2014

Source: Acoustical Society of America (ASA)

Summary: The sounds that most animals use to communicate are innate, not learned. However, a few species, including humans, can imitate new sounds and use them in appropriate social contexts. This ability, known as vocal learning, is one of the underpinnings of language. Now, researchers have found that killer whales can engage in cross-species vocal learning: when socialized with bottlenose dolphins, they shifted the sounds they made to more closely match their social partners.

Killer whales (Orcinus orca) can engage in cross-species vocal learning: when socialized with bottlenose dolphins, they shifted the types of sounds they made to more closely match their social partners. Credit: © RKP / Fotolia

From barks to gobbles, the sounds that most animals use to communicate are innate, not learned. However, a few species, including humans, can imitate new sounds and use them in appropriate social contexts. This ability, known as vocal learning, is one of the underpinnings of language.

Vocal learning has also been observed in bats, some birds, and cetaceans, a group that includes whales and dolphins. But while avian researchers have characterized vocal learning in songbirds down to specific neural pathways, studying the trait in large marine animals has presented more of a challenge.

Now, University of San Diego graduate student Whitney Musser and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute senior research scientist Dr. Ann Bowles have found that killer whales (Orcinus orca) can engage in cross-species vocal learning: when socialized with bottlenose dolphins, they shifted the types of sounds they made to more closely match their social partners. The results, published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, suggest that vocal imitation may facilitate social interactions in cetaceans.

Killer whales have complex vocal repertoires made up of clicks, whistles and pulsed calls — repeated brief bursts of sound punctuated with silence. The acoustic features of these vocalizations, such as their duration, pitch and pulse pattern, vary across social groups. Whales that are closely related or live together produce similar pulsed calls that carry vocal characteristics distinct to the group, known as a dialect.

“There’s been an idea for a long time that killer whales learn their dialect, but it isn’t enough to say they all have different dialects so therefore they learn. There needs to be some experimental proof so you can say how well they learn and what context promotes learning,” said Bowles.

Testing vocal learning ability in social mammals usually requires observing the animal in a novel social situation, one that might stimulate them to communicate in new ways. Bottlenose dolphins provide a useful comparison species in this respect: they make generally similar sounds but produce them in different proportions, relying more on clicks and whistles than the pulsed calls that dominate killer whale communication.

“We had a perfect opportunity because historically, some killer whales have been held with bottlenose dolphins,” said Bowles. By comparing old recordings of vocalization patterns from the cross-socialized subjects with recordings of killer whales and bottlenose dolphins housed in same-species groups, Bowles and her team were able to evaluate the degree to which killer whales learned vocalization patterns from their cross-species social partners.

All three killer whales that had been housed with dolphins for several years shifted the proportions of different call types in their repertoire to more closely match the distribution found in dolphins — they produced more clicks and whistles and fewer pulsed calls. The researchers also found evidence that killer whales can learn completely new sounds: one killer whale that was living with dolphins at the time of the experiment learned to produce a chirp sequence that human caretakers had taught to her dolphin pool-mates before she was introduced to them.

Vocal learning skills alone don’t necessarily mean that killer whales have language in the same way that humans do. However, they do indicate a high level of neural plasticity, the ability to change circuits in the brain to incorporate new information. “Killer whales seem to be really motivated to match the features of their social partners,” said Bowles, though the adaptive significance of the behavior is not yet known.

There are immediate reasons to study the vocal patterns of cetaceans: these marine mammals are threatened by human activities through competition for fishery resources, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with vessels, exposure to pollutants and oil spills and, ultimately, shrinking habitats due to anthropogenic climate change. If their social bonds are closely linked to their vocalizations, killer whales’ ability to survive amidst shifting territories and social groups may be tied to their ability to adapt their communication strategies.

“It’s important to understand how they acquire [their vocalization patterns], and lifelong, to what degree they can change it, because there are a number of different [cetacean] populations on the decline right now,” said Bowles. “And where killer whales go, we can expect other small whale species to go — it’s a broader question.”


Journal Reference:

  1. Whitney B. Musser, Ann E. Bowles, Dawn M. Grebner, and Jessica L. Crance.Differences in acoustic features of vocalizations produced by killer whales cross-socialized with bottlenose dolphins. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2014 DOI: 10.1121/1.4893906

Consciência pode permanecer por até três minutos após a morte, diz estudo (O Globo)

Cientistas entrevistaram pacientes que chegaram a ter morte clínica, mas voltaram à vida

POR O GLOBO

Cena da novela "Amor Eterno Amor" da Rede Globo retrata a experiência de quase morte estudadas pelos cientistas da Universidade de Southampton Foto: ReproduçãoCena da novela “Amor Eterno Amor” da Rede Globo retrata a experiência de quase morte estudadas pelos cientistas da Universidade de Southampton – Reprodução

RIO – Aquele túnel com uma luz brilhante no fundo e uma sensação de paz descritos por filmes e outras pessoas que alegaram ter passado por experiência de quase morte podem ser reais. No maior estudo já feito sobre o tema, cientistas da Universidade de Southampton disseram ter comprovado que a consciência humana permanece por ao menos três minutos após o óbito biológico. Durante esse meio tempo, pacientes conseguiriam testemunhar e lembrar depois de eventos como a saída do corpo e os movimentos ao redor do quarto do hospital.

Ao longo de quatro anos, os especialistas examinaram mais de duas mil pessoas que sofreram paradas cardíacas em 15 hospitais no Reino Unido, Estados Unidos e Áustria. Cerca de 16% sobreviveram. E destes, mais de 40% descreveram algum tipo de “consciência” durante o tempo em que eles estavam clinicamente mortos, antes de seus corações voltarem a bater.

O caso mais emblemático foi de um homem ainda lembrou ter deixado seu corpo totalmente e assistindo sua reanimação do canto da sala. Apesar de ser inconsciente e “morto” por três minutos, o paciente narrou com detalhes as ações da equipe de enfermagem e descreveu o som das máquinas.

– Sabemos que o cérebro não pode funcionar quando o coração parou de bater. Mas neste caso, a percepção consciente parece ter continuado por até três minutos no período em que o coração não estava batendo, mesmo que o cérebro normalmente encerre as atividades dentro de 20 a 30 segundos após o coração – explicou ao jornal inglês The Telegraph o pesquisador Sam Parnia.

Dos 2.060 pacientes com parada cardíaca estudados, 330 sobreviveram e 140 disseram ter experimentado algum tipo de consciência ao ser ressuscitado. Embora muitos não se lembrassem de detalhes específicos, alguns relatos coincidiram. Um em cada cinco disseram que tinha sentido uma sensação incomum de tranquilidade, enquanto quase um terço disse que o tempo tinha se abrandado ou se acelerado.

Alguns lembraram de ter visto uma luz brilhante, um flash de ouro ou o sol brilhando. Outros relataram sentimentos de medo, afogamento ou sendo arrastado pelas águas profundas. Cerca de 13% disseram que se sentiam separados de seus corpos.

De acordo com Parnia, muito mais pessoas podem ter experiências quando estão perto da morte, mas as drogas ou sedativos utilizados no processo de ressuscitação podem afetar a memória:

– As estimativas sugerem que milhões de pessoas tiveram experiências vivas em relação à morte. Muitas assumiram que eram alucinações ou ilusões, mas os relatos parecem corresponder a eventos reais. E uma proporção maior de pessoas pode ter experiências vivas de morte, mas não se lembrarem delas devido aos efeitos da lesão cerebral ou sedativos em circuitos de memória.

VEJA TAMBÉM

Read more: http://oglobo.globo.com/sociedade/saude/consciencia-pode-permanecer-por-ate-tres-minutos-apos-morte-diz-estudo-14166762#ixzz3FaJap9ny

Near-death experiences? Results of the world’s largest medical study of the human mind and consciousness at time of death (Science Daily)

Date: October 7, 2014

Source: University of Southampton

Summary: The results of a four-year international study of 2060 cardiac arrest cases across 15 hospitals concludes the following. The themes relating to the experience of death appear far broader than what has been understood so far, or what has been described as so called near-death experiences. In some cases of cardiac arrest, memories of visual awareness compatible with so called out-of-body experiences may correspond with actual events. A higher proportion of people may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits. Widely used yet scientifically imprecise terms such as near-death and out-of-body experiences may not be sufficient to describe the actual experience of death. The recalled experience surrounding death merits a genuine investigation without prejudice.

The results of a four-year international study of 2060 cardiac arrest cases across 15 hospitals are in. Among those who reported a perception of awareness and completed further interviews, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections in relation to death that were not compatible with the commonly used term of near death experiences. Credit: © sudok1 / Fotolia

The results of a four-year international study of 2060 cardiac arrest cases across 15 hospitals concludes the following. The themes relating to the experience of death appear far broader than what has been understood so far, or what has been described as so called near-death experiences. In some cases of cardiac arrest, memories of visual awareness compatible with so called out-of-body experiences may correspond with actual events. A higher proportion of people may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits. Widely used yet scientifically imprecise terms such as near-death and out-of-body experiences may not be sufficient to describe the actual experience of death.

Recollections in relation to death, so-called out-of-body experiences (OBEs) or near-death experiences (NDEs), are an often spoken about phenomenon which have frequently been considered hallucinatory or illusory in nature; however, objective studies on these experiences are limited.

In 2008, a large-scale study involving 2060 patients from 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom, United States and Austria was launched. The AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study, sponsored by the University of Southampton in the UK, examined the broad range of mental experiences in relation to death. Researchers also tested the validity of conscious experiences using objective markers for the first time in a large study to determine whether claims of awareness compatible with out-of-body experiences correspond with real or hallucinatory events.

Results of the study have been published in the journal Resuscitation.

Dr Sam Parnia, Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Director of Resuscitation Research at The State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA, and the study’s lead author, explained: “Contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs and brain to cease functioning. If attempts are made to reverse this process, it is referred to as ‘cardiac arrest’; however, if these attempts do not succeed it is called ‘death’. In this study we wanted to go beyond the emotionally charged yet poorly defined term of NDEs to explore objectively what happens when we die.”

Thirty-nine per cent of patients who survived cardiac arrest and were able to undergo structured interviews described a perception of awareness, but interestingly did not have any explicit recall of events.

“This suggests more people may have mental activity initially but then lose their memories after recovery, either due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory recall,” explained Dr Parnia, who was an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Southampton when he started the AWARE study.

Among those who reported a perception of awareness and completed further interviews, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections in relation to death that were not compatible with the commonly used term of NDE’s. These included fearful and persecutory experiences. Only 9 per cent had experiences compatible with NDEs and 2 per cent exhibited full awareness compatible with OBE’s with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ events.

One case was validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest. Dr Parnia concluded: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating. In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.

“Thus, while it was not possible to absolutely prove the reality or meaning of patients’ experiences and claims of awareness, (due to the very low incidence (2 per cent) of explicit recall of visual awareness or so called OBE’s), it was impossible to disclaim them either and more work is needed in this area. Clearly, the recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine investigation without prejudice.”

Further studies are also needed to explore whether awareness (explicit or implicit) may lead to long term adverse psychological outcomes including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr Jerry Nolan, Editor-in-Chief of Resuscitation, stated: “The AWARE study researchers are to be congratulated on the completion of a fascinating study that will open the door to more extensive research into what happens when we die.”


Journal Reference:

  1. Parnia S, et al. AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study. Resuscitation, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.09.004

Uma morte prenunciada (Folha de S.Paulo)

Bruce Babbitt e Thomas Lovejoy

8 de outubro de 2014

Brasil, Peru e outros países da OEA deveriam tratar explicitamente dos direitos dos indígenas massacrados por viverem em suas terras

Foi uma morte prenunciada por anos de avisos e ameaças repetidas. A previsão se concretizou no mês passado, quando pistoleiros assassinaram Edwin Chota, líder peruano dos ashaninka do rio Tamaya, com três companheiros numa floresta perto da fronteira com o Brasil.

O horror desse acontecimento traz à memória outro assassinato, ocorrido em Xapuri, no Brasil, em 1988 –a morte de Chico Mendes.

Vinte e seis anos depois constatamos que Chico Mendes não morreu em vão. O Brasil reagiu à sua própria consciência e à opinião mundial com reformas de suas leis florestais, incluindo a criação de reservas extrativistas, de mais reservas indígenas e outras áreas de proteção.

A questão que se coloca agora para o presidente Ollanta Humala é se o Peru conseguirá honrar a memória de Edwin Chota e se redimir dessa tragédia. Chota era um Chico Mendes de seu tempo. O horror de sua morte não pode ficar restrito à remota selva do norte do Peru.

O povo ashaninka peruano vive na região da nascente do rio Tamaya, onde tinha sido esquecido e passado despercebido até que uma nova ameaça, sob a forma da demanda por mogno e outras madeiras, começou a estender seus tentáculos até sua região remota.

Nas últimas décadas, enquanto madeireiras e traficantes foram ocupando a região, os ashaninka foram se tornando fugitivos em sua própria terra. Foram pressionados a trabalhar como guias e ameaçados de violência. Em vários momentos, Chota e seus seguidores foram forçados a atravessar a fronteira para o Brasil, onde o governo criou a reserva de Apiwtxa e enviou a Polícia Federal para retirar as madeireiras.

Em 2002, Chota e seu povo começaram a enviar petições ao governo do Peru, reivindicando a criação de uma reserva protegida do lado peruano. Recusando-se a se armar, munido apenas de facões, Chota pressionou as autoridades a dar aos ashaninka os títulos de propriedade das terras que ocupam.

Com a ajuda de ONGs peruanas, aliados indígenas e apoiadores internacionais, os ashaninka concluíram o trabalho técnico de delinear os limites de sua terra e registraram o pedido de reconhecimento delas.

Contudo, depois de mais de dez anos, ainda não conseguiram persuadir os governos regional e nacional a agir. Seus líderes eleitos os abandonaram. Falaram mais alto o dinheiro e a influência de madeireiras, serrarias e outros participantes na cadeia escusa da exportação de mogno aos EUA e à Europa.

O presidente Humala prometeu uma investigação. Para reparar a tragédia, o governo peruano precisa levar os responsáveis à Justiça.

Até agora, no entanto, as autoridades peruanas guardam silêncio quanto às reformas necessárias para frear a violência que se espalha pela região, a fim de criar uma reserva para os ashaninka e controlar a extração ilegal de madeira.

Ao mesmo tempo, Peru, Brasil e outros países da Organização dos Estados Americanos, além da ONU, deveriam tratar explicitamente dos direitos dos povos indígenas massacrados por viverem em suas próprias terras. Esse é um desafio de direitos humanos tão urgente quanto aqueles dos conflitos globais sobre os quais lemos diariamente.

Tomando medidas concretas e promulgando reformas amplas, emulando o precedente criado pelo Brasil após o assassinato de Chico Mendes, o Peru e a comunidade global poderão honrar Edwin Chota e outros mártires, conferindo algum sentido a essa tragédia.