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Lecture: On Latour and Simondon’s Mode of Existence (Digital Milieu)

Posted by Yuk Hui – 2 Feb 2015

On Latour and Simondon’s Mode of Existence

– fragments of a fictional dialogue yet to come

Yuk Hui, intervention given in a Workshop on Latour@ Denkerei, 28 Jan,2013

This intervention from its outset searches a dialogue between Simondon and Latour, a fictional dialogue, that nevertheless exists though it hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened, or should I say it was once about to happen, when Latour praised Simondon’s Du Mode d’existence des objets techniques, and commented that it is a work that didn’t yet find its successor. But it does exist, this fictional dialogue, or at least we can talk about its mode of existence if you prefer since being fictional is also a mode of existence. We cannot draw a squared circle but we can think of a squared circle, it has meanings, this was an example given by Edmund Husserl as a critique of formal logic. The secrete philosopher of Bruno Latour, Étienne Souriau hold a similar idea in his Les différents Modes d’existence. A fictional object or character doesn’t occur in time and space as a physical object, or a historical event, but it does exists in works, in the socio-psychological life and imaginations of their readers and witness. Modes of existence is always plural, it doesn’t follow the rule of contradiction, it is rather key to what Latour calls ontological pluralism.

The question of the mode of existence departs from the question of Dasein posted by Martin Heidegger, and the meaning of Sein, eliminates the Ontologische Differenz between Sein and Seienden in order to de-prioritize certain mode of existence, with a kind of ontological politeness. Modes of existence is a new organon to the analysis of modern life, and also one that revolt against the 20th century philosophy aiming a unified theory of existence. Now to enter the modes of existence, according to Latour one must employ a new dispostif called diplomatic, meaning one should be aware of oneself, resisting esoteric temptations, while being polite and try to negotiate different terms. Hence Latour proposed to go back to an anthropology that starts with reflection on European modernity instead of starting with dialogues with others.

It is also this word “Mode of existence” on the one hand brings together Latour and Simondon to us since Simondon is a philosopher of the mode of existence instead of existence; on the other hand, it allows us to go beyond the question of network in actor-network theory, as Latour himself said in an interview with la vie des idées “what is complicated to understand, maybe, for those who know the rest of my works, it is that network is no longer the principle mode of driving, of vehicle. The world became a bit populated: there is more vehicles moving in different forms”1.That is to say, network is only one mode of existence out of 15 different modes, among which we also find Reproduction, Metamorphose, Habit, Technics, Fiction, Reference, Politics, Right, Religion, Attachment, Organization, Morality, Preposition and Double Click. Network can no longer alonemonopolize the academic social research (by saying so, network still seems to be the framework of the whole book2). Instead it is necessary to re-articulate this specific mode of existence with other modes of existence. For Latour, new position or preposition on the mode of existence allows us to open up the new field of philosophical investigation of the Moderns. The task is no longer how “we have never been modern”, a project done 20 years ago, but rather according to Latour it is an effort to complete the uniquely negative title – we have never been modern – “with a positive version this time of the same affirmation”3.

Mode of Existences and Ontological Politeness

How could one find an entrance to the question of “mode of existence”? Philosophy starts always with dialogue, the most ancient mode of dialectics, and Socrates has always been the model of such a tradition. Now, we want to ask what could this dialogue between Latour and Simondon be? How could us continue a fiction which was started by Latour? For Latour, the significance of the work of Simondon is that he has moved far beyond subject and object, and more importantly when the like and dislike of Heidegger which still shadows the research in philosophy of technology. Latour wrote: “Simondon has grasped that the ontological question can be extracted from the search of substance, from the fascination for particular knowledge, from the obsession for the bifurcation between subject and object, and be posed rather in terms of vector.” Latour quoted a paragraph from Du Mode d’existence des objets techniques:

This de-phasing of the mediation between figural characters and background characters translates the appearance of a distance between man and the world. And mediation itself, instead of being a simple structuration of the universe, takes on a certain density; it becomes objective in the technical and subjective in religion, making the technical object appear to be the primary object and divinity the primary subject, whereas before there was only the unity of the living thing and its milieu: objectivity and subjectivity appear between the living thing and its milieu, between man and the world, at a moment where the world does not yet have a full status as object, and man a complete status as subject.4

But then he continues abruptly: “yet Simondon remains a classical thinker, obsessed as he is by original unity and future unity, deducing his modes from each other in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Hegel…Multirealism turns out to be nothing more, in the end, than a long detour that brings him back to a philosophy of being, the seventh of the modes he sketched.” Latour copied and pasted these paragraphs in numerous articles, this commentary on Simondon is only a passage to the work of Étienne Souriau’s Les Différents modes d’existence. For Latour, it was Souriau but not Simondon who really showed us how can one affirm an ontological pluralism without falling back to the old and weak anthropological relativism and philosophical monism.

In this passing [passe] in Latour’s own sense, Simondon was portrait as an original thinker who wasn’t able to break away from “classical philosophy”, then unfortunately fell back to the shadow of the “original unity and future unity”. But what does it really mean by this quote from Simondon? What does it mean by “this de-phasing of the mediation between figural characters and background characters translates the appearance of a distance between man and the world” and what would be the context of such a quote? If we allow ourselves a bit of patience, Simondon was referring to the figure and background distinction as explained in Gestalt psychology. The figural reality expresses the possibilities of human action in the world, and the background reality expresses the power of nature. Simondon was trying to explain the relation between technics and religions, that originated from the incomparability between man and the world. A society of magic, sees Simondon as the moment where subject and object, human world and nature, figure and background were not fully distinct. But it is also the result of the resolution of incomparability between human being and its milieu, the unity described by Latour is only the possibility for incompatibility. If it could be counted as the repetition of the gesture of classical philosophy in searching of an unity, then biology, physics and chemistry may also have to bear the same accusation.

What is indeed profound in Simondon’s concept of the mode of existence is that this tension or incompatibility has to be resolved constantly both in the process of individualization of technical objects, and also individuation of living beings. It is also by the notion of incompatibility that one has to affirm the multiplicity of objects and their modes of existence. Indeed, Simondon doesn’t think that one can seize an object by its end, there exists ‘espèce technique’, it is rather more productively to think of analogies between different technical species, for example a pendulum clock and a cable winch5.We must recognize here that Simondon’s didn’t only talk about the mode of existence of technical objects, for Simondon, the theory of ontogenesis and individuation is also an inquiry into how different modes of existence interact with each other and and in constant process of evolution. In other words, there is no peace for us, and there hasn’t been a mode of existence called peace – the goal of some kind of all diplomatic activities. Any pursuit of stability is only an illusion, though lets say such an illusion is also a mode of existence. There is no unity of identity, or recollection, of unity composed of parts and united according to certain method of classification6. For Latour, or his reading of Souriau, the ontological pluralism/multi-realism must affirm the existence of phenomenon, things, soul, fictional beings, god, without recurring to a phenomenological account. It must revolt against the Kantian tradition and move towards a speculative realism without correlationism. Some commentators on Simondon such as Xavier Guchet sees the similarity of the approaches between Simondon and Souriau, especially the common word “modulation” they used to signify the internal transformation in being, which is exactly dephasing in Simondon’s own vocabularies, and quoted by Latour above. As Guchet states for Simondon “unity of existence is not an unity of identity, of recollection from an situation of scattering[éparpillement], an unity obtained by composition of part and according to a method of classification”7. If there is an unity in the thoughts of Simondon, then this unity is nothing other than tension and incompatibility. Simondon didn’t use often the word “realism”, but rather “reality”, and what is human reality is actually always in tension with technical reality, while what signified by technical reality is not a single unity or a single phenomenon, but a reality conditioned by many other factors, such as geographical, industrial, natural, etc. For example, the production of white boots and raincoats is conditioned by limitation of the research in material, the visibility of certain colour in that environment, etc. If we can translate into Latour’s own vocabularies, it is the heterogeneous actors in play with different values.

Latour didn’t elaborate all these, except an abrupt assertion that seems a bit brutal, and lack of ontological politeness – to certain extent. In the book Enquête sur les Modes d’existence, we can find another commentary from Latour on Simondon. The section collected in the book is from his earlier article Prendre le Pli des techniques, in which Latour praised Simondon, but at the same time, proposed to look at the mode of existence of technics instead of the mode of existence of technical objects. Latour and Simondon are just like two acquaintances, you smile and say hi without shaking hand, but he has to node his head anyway since there must be a politeness if one wants to be diplomatic. Latour thinks that it is impossible to find the technical mode of existence in objects themselves but rather technics itself. Since technical objects don’t give us visibility, in fact they make technics opaque to us. One can probably find a similar concern from Heidegger, especially the question of Besorgen. We are concernful beings and we always forget what is in front of us, what we are using, especially Being which we are and in which we dwell: we are far away from what is closest to us.

But this dialectic movement of visible and invisible seems to be a general tendency of all technical objects, and it is the particular mode of existence of technical objects and technics, which has been widely recognized in the study of technologies. Latour was right that technics hides itself deeper than alétheia. The mode of existence of technics is only visible through technical objects, and it is also rendered invisible by technical objects, since on the one hand there is no technics without materialisation, or leaving traces; on the other hand materialisation doesn’t assure visibility, that is to say one cannot find identity or essence from eidos. I would rather say compared to Latour’s proposal of going back to the “transcendence” of technics, Simondon shows a more concrete account of the levels of existence of technical objects: namely usage, historical characters, and the profound structure of technicity. And these modes of existences also account different level of visibility and invisibility. For example, how can we think of the diode in your computer? Or lets take away the subject who speculates, how does the diode in your computer exist by itself, a diode that really exists in a black box even if you open the case of your computer and check every component? How can we think of Mercedes Benz, the different models that nevertheless associate with the brand name Mercedes Benz? When are are visible to us and invisible to us, without being reduced to question of transcendence and immanence?

Be diplomatic without double-clicks

Another Latourian commentary on Simondon comes indirectly from Graham Harman, if we can use Latour’s own vocabulary on the modes of existence, it is the overlap between Reference and Network that bring forth this mode of existence: another fictional dialogue between Latour and Simondon in the regime of enunciation of Harman. Speaking of the relational philosophy of Latour, Harman compared it with kinds of monism that supposes “a single lump universe, a world devoid of any specific realities at all8”. Among these monisms, Harman found one peculiar one, that is one related to Deleuze, and more specifically Simondon, if we now count how much Deleuze has taken from the concept of individuation of Simondon. In contrary to the single lump universe, this monism “try to enjoy the best of both worlds, defining a unified realm beneath experience that is not completely unified. Instead of a total lump-world, it is one animated in advance by different ‘pre-individual’ zones that prevent the world from being purely homogeneous.”

As Alberto Toscano describes Simondon’s position, ‘whilst [preindividual being] is yet to be in- dividuated, [it] can already be regarded as affected by relationality. This preindividual relationality, which takes place between heterogeneous dimensions, forces or energetic tendencies, is nevertheless also a sort of non- relation […]. Being is thus said to be more-than-one to the extent that all of its potentials cannot be actualized at once’. Simondon like DeLanda wants the world to be both heterogeneous and not yet parcelled out into individuals. In this way, specific realities lead a sort of halfhearted existence somewhere between one and many9.

Harman further explained that this is certainly not the case for Latour, since “his actors are fully in- dividual from the start; his philosophy contains no such concept as ‘pre- individual’. His actors are not blended together in a ‘continuous yet heterogeneous’ whole, but are basically cut off from one another. There is no continuum for Latour despite his relationism, and this thankfully entails that his relationism is less radical than it is for philosophies of the virtual (note that Latour’s rare flirtations with monism seem to coincide with his equally rare flirtations with the term ‘virtual’).” In fact, maybe it is because Harman didn’t read Simondon since he relied on Alberto Toscano’s reading, he hence has a rather vague idea of individuation. Here we see another problem of not being diplomatic enough, that is due the disagreement of word without looking into the content. The question for us is how can we negotiate different ontologies, not to generate an unity, but to affirm different realisms without a double click? In other words, how to become a professional diplomate as Latour suggests?

The fact that there are always individuals for Simondon, but individuals didn’t disclose us anything of operation or process, which can only be studied through individuation. Taking individual as isolable individual or as part of collective, according to Simondon is the problem of the substantialism of sociology and psychology. For Simondon, as well as Latour, individuals cannot be reduced; but for Simondon, who sees further than Harman, the individual cannot be reduced to itself. Each individual is not individual in itself, but always accompanied by the pre-individual, which is the potential and energetic that provide the motivation for individuation: it is a transindividual rather than an individual. And if actor-network aims to look into the complexity and the process of social phenomenon, didn’t Simondon and Latour walk in parallel?

Now if Actor-Network theory has to be re-articulated according to the modes of existence of the modern according to Latour, we must pay attention to the translation that is not necessarily diplomatic but sincere. We must also note that this notion of translation is so important in Actor-Network theory, since according to the annotation of Latour’s Ebook, it is called la sociologie de la traduction, sociology of translation. But lets be a bit careful here, with the word traduction, Latour distinguish it from translation. For him, the particular mode of existence he calls “Double Click” is a translation without traduction, meaning without transformation, without process, it is simply a jump from one process to another. But isn’t Latour and Harmon’s reading of Simondon also such a double click?

I am not rejecting Latour and Harman due to their double clicks on a button called “Simondon”, since we have to be diplomatic and polite. But maybe we need to pay attention that, there are different style of being diplomatic, and I feel like a more productive dialogue is possible if we are able to negotiate like diplomates who try to translation different terms and requests into conditions and agreements, as Latour himself suggests. These negotiations may allow us to peek into a more profound investigation on the modes of existence of Moderns. Actor-Network, a concept according to Latour needs to be renewed in the inquiry into the mode of existence, the remaining task is to re-situate network in the broader framework of the modes of existence.

Lets start and conclude with something lighter and more motivated and leave something heavier and more specific behind, so that we can find ways to start a real negotiation – even though you may criticise this is also a double-click of some kind later. Instead of going into every mode of existence, lets me outline a framework for such a dialogue. These are four pairs of beings: 1) Actor – Individual; 2) Network – Milieu; 3)Relations – Affectivo-emotive/Social-psychological; 4) Traduction – Transduction. We wouldn’t be able to go through all these pairs in details, since they deserve a work of its own. Here I can only offer a very brief detour, shows how Latour and Simondon’s interest in describing processes and operations can give us a synthetic reading of both. We will see that how different modes of existences can hardly be classified into 15 categories and simple overlap between these categories could already bring us a lot of headaches. What seems to me problematic is that actors as individuals – according to Harman – are too rigid. Of course, each individual exist, me, I am speaking in front of you as an individual, but I am not an individual to you as a total other, since you are listening to me, and we are thinking together, at least you are thinking according to my voice. You are listening to my demands, my ontologies, with your politeness. And I am observing you, some of you smiling, some of you shaking head, many of you checking Facebook, and I must adjust my speech, my tone, the volume of my voice, my perception of my speech and even myself. There are many possibilities that is totally outside me, but they are the pre-individual for me as a transindividual as Simondon proposed.

Simondon is more persistent with trans-.Note that it is a transindividual but not an individual; a transduction and not only a traduction, transduction is at the same time change and exchange that triggers transformation of structure. Latour, he himself wants to dissolve network into the question of the mode of existence, and here we can see again the possibility of reconstitute it in the concept of milieu. The network of Latour is too much into “international relations” due to its diplomatic nature, and for Simondon the milieu has to be socio-psychological and emo-affective, it is also why Simondon was able to talk about an social-psychology of technicity. This is not a simple defence for Simondon, since it wouldn’t be fruitful to do so, but in order to search the possibility of a dialogue that doesn’t dismiss each other in a double-click. For an inquiry into the modes of existence is possible, it seems that one must not repeat what has happened in the history of the inquiry into existence, like how Jorge Luis Borges made fun of Bishop John Wilkins’ ontology and the funny Chinese encyclopedia; indeed 12+310 categories doesn’t seem to be much different from15 categories except when the “+” counts. If we dare to take it a step further, then it is how a metaphysics departs from its history, not only in terms of content, but also style.

1Le diplomate de la Terre Entretien avec Bruno Latour, par Arnaud Esquerre & Jeanne Lazarus [18-09-2012], http://www.laviedesidees.fr/Le-diplomate-de-la-Terre.html

2Thanks to Jeremy James Lecomte and Markus Burkhardt for insisting on this point

3Latour, EMD, 23

4In Latour, « Reflections on Etienne Souriau’s Les Modes d’existence », in (edited by Graham Harman, Levi Bryant and Nick Srnicek The Speculative Turn Continental Materialism and Realism re.press Australi, pp. 304-333, Melbourne, Australie

5Simondon, MEOT (2012), Aubier, p.21

6Guchet, Pour un humanisme technologique. Culture, technique et société dans la philosophie de Gilbert Simondon, PUF,2011, 35

7Ibid, « l’unité de l’existence n’est pas une unité d’identité, de récollection à partir d’une situation d’éparpillement, une unité obtenue par composition de parties et selon une méthode de classification »

8Harman, Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics, 159

9ibid

10Latour, EMO, 477

Confessions of a Shark Anthropologist (Anthropology News)

Anthropology and Environment Society

April 22, 2015

Patrick Nason

Earlier this year I received a phone call from an unknown number. “This is the National Geographic Channel. Is it true that you are a shark anthropologist?” I paused— “Yes, I guess you can say that.” “Great, we are doing a program about sharks and are asking experts why sharks attack at certain times and in certain places more than others. Can you tell me a bit about your work?”

My interest in sharks began in 2005 during an internship at a resort in Papua New Guinea. Ten miles from shore and ninety feet below the surface, a twelve-foot hammerhead shark swam straight at me, stopping only three feet away before turning to rejoin its group. As it moved gracefully into the deep, I caught my breath and returned to the surface.

Four years later, I was working on a dive boat in South Florida when a sport-fishing boat motored past with a large grey hammerhead hung from its rigging. For a brief moment, I thought it was the shark I encountered years before. And why couldn’t it be? Like whales, most species of sharks are highly migratory. They have little respect for exclusive economic zones, marine protected areas, or any other enclosures. What might appear as absolute freedom in these animals has led to the production of an abstract image of sharks as transgressive predators, menaces to society, and worthy targets of sport. Regardless of what the category of the shark has become, the individual animal hanging from that fishing boat was certainly dead—no longer a terrible monster.

Sharks Arranged for Sale at Fish Market, Indonesia (Photo credit: Patrick Nason)

Sharks Arranged for Sale at Fish Market, Indonesia (Photo credit: Patrick Nason)

This incident took place in 2009, just after Rob Stewart’s film Sharkwater revealed the decimation of global shark populations by the finning industry. Considering the importance of sharks to healthy marine ecosystems, surely it was wrong to continue killing them for sport. Thinking I might do some good, I spoke with the captain of the boat about their catch.

“Couldn’t you release them from now on?” I asked.

“They normally die during the fight.”

“Well, what about fishing for something else?”

“Sailfish and marlin are not in season,” he said. “And besides, the clients are paying for the experience, and they want their photo taken with the big sharks.”

“Yes but hammerhead populations are in serious decline.” I said.

“We catch plenty of them, and easily too. More this year than last.”

I was stuck. How could I prove something was threatened when local knowledge suggests otherwise? Even worse, how could anyone prove sharks were in decline when, as free-roaming marine animals, they cannot be easily counted?

That same year, National Geographic aired a documentary entitled Drain the OceanThe promotional abstract read: “In this special, we look at what most call ‘The Final Frontier.’ Using the newest data from scientists all over the world and the latest advancements in computer generated imaging, we are able to explore some of the most dramatic landscapes the Earth has to offer.” This was exactly what my argument lacked—quantitative support through technological innovation. If computers could reveal the geological truths of this invisible realm, perhaps they could also reveal the ecological truths of a planet in decline—dolphins tangled in drift nets, massive whales with harpoons rusting in their backs, and dwindling populations of sharks swishing their tales through the muddy terrain. If this could be done, then maybe I could convince the fisherman that killing sharks for money was wrong.

But draining the ocean is not yet possible, nor should it be. Even if through some technological means we could illuminate the other seventy percent of our planet, the lives and the forms of relationality between humans and marine animals (however contentious they may be) would change at the moment of discovery. In trying to protect sharks, neither scientific nor emotional appeals alone are sufficient to effect social change. There remains a mystery of what oceanic animals do, how they do it, and exactly how many are required to keep doing what they do. If this mystery were completely resolved, the result would be equally harmful to marine life and to those who make their living upon the sea; for this unknown marks the distinction between our terrestrial selves and aquatic others, and is therefore what makes knowledge of the ocean (and thus ourselves) possible.

 An Anthropology of the Ocean

My phone call with National Geographic didn’t last long. The producer ended it by saying, “Your work sounds interesting, but we are looking for more evidence about why these attacks are occurring. Could you recommend a good marine biologist?” I did, and promptly hung up. I thought about our conversation—I don’t even know what a shark anthropologist is, and I’m supposed to be one! 

As human interests are directed into the sea in the form of extractive industry, state securitization, renewable energy, and conservation enclosure, we find ourselves as a species grappling with the politics and hermeneutics of the life aquatic. Responding to this with continued interest in the protection of marine life and forms of relationality, I have begun to sketch an Anthropology of the OceanWorking alongside indigenous fishing communities, ecologists, oceanographers, and drawing on the work of fellow anthropologists like Stefan Helmreich, such an approach examines how oceanic spaces and bodies are imagined, explored, and controlled, and how rights to marine resources are established and translated across social, spatial, and categorical boundaries

Within this framework, an Anthropology of Sharks could do the following: 1) draw upon the history of anthropological theory and method to ask how valuable spaces become ‘final frontiers,’ 2) describe how these produced frontiers are explored, claimed, enclosed—in short, how they are settled, and 3) reveal the forms of dispossession and disenchantment that occur when such settlement attempts to cultivate spaces have already been occupied by other ways of being and knowing. Putting a multispecies twist on subaltern studies and postcolonial anthropology, this approach would not only ask if the shark could “speak,” but if and how it might be heard amid the cacophony of other voices.

Patrick Nason is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, and a blogger at the Shark Research Institute.

Flavorwire Exclusive: Civilization Is Doomed! McKenzie Wark Takes on the Anthropocene (Flavorwire)

By Jonathon Sturgeon – Apr 29, 2015 12:00pm

In the below excerpt, drawn from the conclusion of his energizing new book Molecular Red, McKenzie Wark confesses that “we all know this civilization can’t last.” Nevertheless! Wark asserts that our imaginations are up to the standard of describing a new and better world, and so he sets out to consider what metaphors we might use to define a future that will “undo the workings of the Anthropocene.” The industriousness and intellectual range you see here defines Molecular Red, a brilliant and persistently entertaining book that considers everything from cyborgs to Russian intellectuals and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Marstrilogy.

From the conclusion to Molecular Red:

There is still some low theory work to do, to transmit the metaphor of the Anthropocene between domains, but in that process, those labor processes will change it. Rather than “interrogate” Crutzen’s Anthropocene—and where did that metaphor come from?—perhaps it is better to see it as what it is: a brilliant hack. The Anthropocene introduces the labor point of view—in the broadest possible sense—into geology. Perhaps the challenge is then to find analogous but different ways to hack other specialized domains of knowledge, to orient them to the situation and the tasks at hand.

Let’s invent new metaphors! Personally, I like the #misanthropocene, but don’t expect it to catch on. Jason Moore prefers the Capitalocene, Jussi Parikka the Anthrobscene. Kate Raworth suggests Manthropocene, given the gender make-up of the Anthropocene Working Group considering it as a name for a geological era. Donna Haraway offers to name it the Chthulucene, a more chthonic version of Cthulhu, the octopoid monster of H. P. Lovecraft’s weird stories. “Chthulucene does not close in on itself; it does not round off; its contact zones are ubiquitous and continuously spin out loopy tendrils.”

Haraway notes the strikingly parallel evolution of new meta- phorical tools in both humanities and biologies, where competitive individualism is no longer a given. In Bogdanovite terms, perhaps it is because in both domains, producing knowledge got strangely complex, collaborative, and mediated by apparatuses. A new breed of basic metaphor is at least partly at work and in play, one which in the biologies could be described as a “multi-species becoming-with.”

Haraway wants to both “justify and trouble” the language of the Anthropocene. As Edwards does with climate science, she insists on the embeddedness in an infrastructure that makes the global appear as a work-object to those natural scientists for whom the Anthropocene makes sense as a metaphor. She points to the limits of its basic metaphors, which still think one-sidedly of competition between populations or genes, where success equals reproduction. More symbiotic—dare we say comradely?—kinds of life hardly figure in such metaphors. But perhaps, as Haraway says, “we are all lichens now”—cyborg lichens.

After Robinson, the task is not debating names or trading stories, but making comradely alliances. Is not Crutzen one of those curious scientist-intellectuals that Robinson’s fiction trains us to look out for? Crutzen and his colleagues in the earth sciences have flagged something that needs to shape the agenda for knowledge, culture, and organization. For those of us seeking to respond from the left, I think the authors presented in Molecular Red offer some of the best ways of processing that information. Bogdanov and Platonov would not really be surprised by the Anthropocene. They were vulgar enough to think aspects of it already.

So let’s pop the following tools into the dillybag for future use:

Something like an empirio-monism has its uses, because it is a way of doing theory that directs the tendency to spin out webs of metaphoric language to the task at hand. It steers the language arts toward agendas arising out of working processes, including those of sciences. It is agnostic about which metaphors best explain the real, but it sees all of them as substitutions which derive from the forms of labor and apparatus of the time.

Something like proletkult has its uses, as the project for the self-organization of the labor point of view. It filters research into past culture and knowledge through the organizational needs of the present. Those needs put pressure on the traditional category of labor, opening it toward feminist standpoints, not to mention our queer cyborg entanglements.

Something like a tektology has its uses, as a way of coordinating labor other than through exchange or hierarchy, or the new infra- structure of corporatized “networks.” It communicates between labor processes poetically and qualitatively. It is a training of the metaphoric wiliness of language toward particular applications which correspond to and with advances in labor technique.

Lastly, something like the utopia of Red Star has its uses, in motivating those working in separate fields to think beyond the fetishistic habits of the local and toward comradely goals. In the absence of a single counter-hegemonic ideology, perhaps something like a meta-utopia might be more useful, and more fun. Meta-utopia offers not so much an imaginary solution to real problems as a real problematizing of how to navigate the differences between the imaginal that corresponds to each particular labor points of view.

And so, to conclude with the slogan with which we began. It might be the slogan of a Cyborg International. One which already possesses in imagination the means and the will to undo the workings of the Anthropocene. One with nothing for it but to build the new living world within the ruins of the old one. We all know this civilization can’t last. Let’s make another.

WORKINGS OF THE WORLD UNTIE! YOU HAVE A WIN TO WORLD!

Is the universe a hologram? (Science Daily)

Date:
April 27, 2015
Source:
Vienna University of Technology
Summary:
The ‘holographic principle,’ the idea that a universe with gravity can be described by a quantum field theory in fewer dimensions, has been used for years as a mathematical tool in strange curved spaces. New results suggest that the holographic principle also holds in flat spaces. Our own universe could in fact be two dimensional and only appear three dimensional — just like a hologram.

Is our universe a hologram? Credit: TU Wien 

At first glance, there is not the slightest doubt: to us, the universe looks three dimensional. But one of the most fruitful theories of theoretical physics in the last two decades is challenging this assumption. The “holographic principle” asserts that a mathematical description of the universe actually requires one fewer dimension than it seems. What we perceive as three dimensional may just be the image of two dimensional processes on a huge cosmic horizon.

Up until now, this principle has only been studied in exotic spaces with negative curvature. This is interesting from a theoretical point of view, but such spaces are quite different from the space in our own universe. Results obtained by scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) now suggest that the holographic principle even holds in a flat spacetime.

The Holographic Principle

Everybody knows holograms from credit cards or banknotes. They are two dimensional, but to us they appear three dimensional. Our universe could behave quite similarly: “In 1997, the physicist Juan Maldacena proposed the idea that there is a correspondence between gravitational theories in curved anti-de-sitter spaces on the one hand and quantum field theories in spaces with one fewer dimension on the other,” says Daniel Grumiller (TU Wien).

Gravitational phenomena are described in a theory with three spatial dimensions, the behaviour of quantum particles is calculated in a theory with just two spatial dimensions — and the results of both calculations can be mapped onto each other. Such a correspondence is quite surprising. It is like finding out that equations from an astronomy textbook can also be used to repair a CD-player. But this method has proven to be very successful. More than ten thousand scientific papers about Maldacena’s “AdS-CFT-correspondence” have been published to date.

Correspondence Even in Flat Spaces

For theoretical physics, this is extremely important, but it does not seem to have much to do with our own universe. Apparently, we do not live in such an anti-de-sitter-space. These spaces have quite peculiar properties. They are negatively curved, any object thrown away on a straight line will eventually return. “Our universe, in contrast, is quite flat — and on astronomic distances, it has positive curvature,” says Daniel Grumiller.

However, Grumiller has suspected for quite some time that a correspondence principle could also hold true for our real universe. To test this hypothesis, gravitational theories have to be constructed, which do not require exotic anti-de-sitter spaces, but live in a flat space. For three years, he and his team at TU Wien (Vienna) have been working on that, in cooperation with the University of Edinburgh, Harvard, IISER Pune, the MIT and the University of Kyoto. Now Grumiller and colleagues from India and Japan have published an article in the journal Physical Review Letters, confirming the validity of the correspondence principle in a flat universe.

Calculated Twice, Same Result

“If quantum gravity in a flat space allows for a holographic description by a standard quantum theory, then there must by physical quantities, which can be calculated in both theories — and the results must agree,” says Grumiller. Especially one key feature of quantum mechanics -quantum entanglement — has to appear in the gravitational theory.

When quantum particles are entangled, they cannot be described individually. They form a single quantum object, even if they are located far apart. There is a measure for the amount of entanglement in a quantum system, called “entropy of entanglement.” Together with Arjun Bagchi, Rudranil Basu and Max Riegler, Daniel Grumiller managed to show that this entropy of entanglement takes the same value in flat quantum gravity and in a low dimension quantum field theory.

“This calculation affirms our assumption that the holographic principle can also be realized in flat spaces. It is evidence for the validity of this correspondence in our universe,” says Max Riegler (TU Wien). “The fact that we can even talk about quantum information and entropy of entanglement in a theory of gravity is astounding in itself, and would hardly have been imaginable only a few years back. That we are now able to use this as a tool to test the validity of the holographic principle, and that this test works out, is quite remarkable,” says Daniel Grumiller.

This however, does not yet prove that we are indeed living in a hologram — but apparently there is growing evidence for the validity of the correspondence principle in our own universe.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arjun Bagchi, Rudranil Basu, Daniel Grumiller, Max Riegler. Entanglement Entropy in Galilean Conformal Field Theories and Flat HolographyPhysical Review Letters, 2015; 114 (11) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.111602

Comissão mista discutirá posição do Brasil em torno de novo acordo do clima (Agência Senado)

A COP 21 será realizada em Paris no final deste ano com a missão de chegar a um acordo global sobre mudanças climáticas para substituir o Protocolo de Kyoto

A Comissão Mista Permanente sobre Mudanças Climáticas (CMMC) promoverá na quarta-feira (29) audiência pública sobre a COP 21 e as possibilidades de negociações em torno de um novo acordo climático global.

Foram convidados para o debate o embaixador José Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho, subsecretário-geral de Meio Ambiente, Energia, Ciência e Tecnologia do Ministério das Relações Exteriores; Tasso Azevedo, coordenador do Observatório do Clima; e um representante do Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

Na Conferência das Partes (COP), são realizados os encontros dos países que assinaram os acordos sobre biodiversidade e mudanças climáticas na Rio 92.

A COP 21 será realizada em Paris no final deste ano com a missão de chegar a um acordo global sobre mudanças climáticas para substituir o Protocolo de Kyoto, de 1997. O acordo deve entrar em vigor em 2020 e a conferência deve adotar um tratado que inclua todos os países.

O Protocolo de Kyoto não foi assinado pelos Estados Unidos, o que desobrigou os países em desenvolvimento de reduzir as emissões de gases de efeito estufa, responsáveis pelo aquecimento global e pelas mudanças climáticas.

A audiência pública começa às 14h30, na sala 13 da Ala Senador Alexandre Costa.

(Agência Senado)

http://www12.senado.leg.br/noticias/materias/2015/04/24/comissao-mista-discutira-posicao-do-brasil-em-torno-de-novo-acordo-do-clima

Mudanças Climáticas – Plano de adaptação sai até julho e terá metas (Observatório do Clima)

7/4/2015 – 12h18

por Clauido Angelo, do Observatóri do Clima

Izabella Teixeira fala em São Paulo. Foto: MMA

Conservação e recuperação de ecossistemas serão adotadas como medidas para atenuar impactos da mudança climática

A ministra do Meio Ambiente, Izabella Teixeira, prometeu nesta quinta-feira (23/04) que o país terá um plano nacional de adaptação às mudanças climáticas em consulta pública até julho. E afirmou que é “claro” que ele terá metas.

“Você já viu plano sem meta? Não é plano, é carta de intenção”, declarou a ministra a jornalistas, durante o seminário Gestão de Água em Situações de Escassez, encerrado nesta sexta-feira em São Paulo.

Embora não tenha adiantado que metas serão essas, a ministra afirmou que, no caso da água, elas dialogarão com o Plano Nacional de Segurança Hídrica e com o CAR (Cadastro Ambiental Rural), que estabelece os parâmetros para a recuperação de áreas degradadas e desmatadas, como matas ciliares – fundamentais para a manutenção dos recursos hídricos.

“As pessoas degradam as nascentes a 200 quilômetros daqui e acham que não tem consequência”, disse Izabella. “Tem CAR para ser feito, vamos recuperar nascentes, cabeceiras de rio, tem que fazer o que outros países fizeram”, prosseguiu, citando a experiência de Nova York. A megalópole americana evitou uma crise hídrica ao pagar fazendeiros de uma região montanhosa próxima para preservar as matas ciliares em torno dos rios onde a água da cidade é captada.

O Plano Nacional de Adaptação estabelecerá as medidas que o Brasil deverá adotar ao longo dos próximos anos para evitar os piores efeitos das mudanças climáticas. Vários países têm inserido metas para adaptação em suas INDCs (Contribuições Nacionalmente Determinadas Pretendidas), as propostas de combate ao aquecimento global que cada país está fazendo para o acordo de Paris, no fim do ano.

A lógica é que, mesmo que o mundo tenha sucesso em cortar emissões de carbono, muitos efeitos da mudança do clima são inevitáveis e as sociedades devem adaptar-se a eles.

No Brasil, conforme indicam dados do estudo Brasil 2040, que até março vinha sendo conduzido pela Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos, esses efeitos incluem redução de áreas agrícolas e de vazão de rios que alimentam algumas das principais hidrelétricas do país, na Amazônia e no Sudeste/Centro-Oeste.

Conduzido pelo Ministério do Meio Ambiente, o PNA (Plano Nacional de Adaptação à Mudança do Clima) deverá propor ações em pelo menos dez grandes áreas: energia, zona costeira, recursos hídricos, desastres naturais, segurança alimentar/agropecuária, ecossistemas, cidades, transporte e logística, indústria e saúde.

O desenho preliminar do plano vinha sendo criticado dentro do próprio governo por não conter metas objetivas – apenas diretrizes gerais para a elaboração de metas de adaptação pelos Estados. O esboço do capítulo de Ecossistemas, por exemplo, fazia uma recapitulação de políticas públicas já existentes e traçava uma série de diretrizes genéricas, como “incluir a perspectiva de adaptação à mudança do clima nos Planos de Prevenção e Controle do Desmatamento e no Plano de Recuperação da Vegetação Nativa”. Ainda não se sabe como ficará o plano final para que ele não seja apenas uma “carta de intenções”, como definiu a ministra do Meio Ambiente.

Resiliência verde

Um dos elementos que deverão integrar o PNA é a chamada adaptação baseada em ecossistemas. Trata-se de uma série de medidas de baixo custo para usar serviços de ecossistemas como escudo contra impactos da mudança do clima.

Um caso clássico dessa modalidade de adaptação é a recuperação de manguezais como forma de proteger zonas costeiras de ressacas, que estão ficando mais fortes devido à elevação do nível do mar.

“É muito mais vantajoso do que construir estruturas de concreto, como quebra-mares”, disse Guilherme Karam, da Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza. Ele é coautor de um estudo publicado no ano passado pela fundação e pelo Iclei – Governos Locais pela Sustentabilidade que identifica oportunidades de adaptação baseada em ecossistemas para o Brasil.

O estudo mapeou cem experiências dessa modalidade de adaptação no mundo todo, 11 delas no Brasil, e mostrou que é possível adotar ações em ecossistemas em todas as áreas do PNA. Isso é especialmente evidente em cidades, onde o reflorestamento pode ajudar a mitigar enchentes e ilhas de calor urbanas, em desastres naturais e em água e energia – por meio da restauração de áreas de preservação permanente.

No caso da água, aponta Karam, a recuperação de áreas naturais dá mais resultado do que investimentos na chamada “infraestrutura cinza” (obras de engenharia) e a um custo menor. Nem sempre isso é verdade, porém, alerta o pesquisador: há casos na Ásia nos quais se constatou que a infraestrutura cinza dá mais resultado, apesar de custar muito mais, então o ideal é combinar as duas abordagens.

O Ministério do Meio Ambiente decidiu incorporar as recomendações do estudo ao plano nacional. (Observatório do Clima/ #Envolverde)

* Publicado originalmente no site Observatório do Clima.

O que não queremos ver nos nossos índios (OESP)

27/4/2015 – 01h02

por Washington Novaes*

JC_Dia-do-indio-2015_6117042015

Notícia de poucos dias atrás (Diário Digital, 19/4) dá conta de pesquisa (relatada pela revista Science) de um grupo de cientistas que, trabalhando na fronteira Brasil-Venezuela com índios ianomâmis, conclui que eles têm anticorpos resistentes a agentes externos – “um microbioma com o nível mais alto de diversidade bacteriana” jamais registrado em qualquer outro grupo. Por isso mesmo, “seu sistema imunológico apresenta mais microrganismos e de todas as bactérias que o dos demais grupos humanos conhecidos” – como demonstrou o sequenciamento de DNA e de bactérias encontradas na pele, na boca e nos intestinos.

Essas análises foram confirmadas por pesquisas em universidades norte-americanas, que recentemente devolveram aos ianomâmis 2.693 amostras de sangue levadas para os Estados Unidos em 1962 – e que agora foram sepultadas pelos índios em cerimoniais respeitosos. Segundo os pesquisadores, na relação com outros grupos humanos esses índios perdem a diversidade de microrganismos e se tornam vulneráveis a doenças que antes não conheciam.

A memória dá um salto e retorna a 1979, quando o autor destas linhas, então chefe da redação do programa Globo Repórter, da Rede Globo, foi pela primeira vez ao Parque Indígena do Xingu documentar um trabalho que ali vinha sendo feito por uma equipe de médicos da Escola Paulista de Medicina (hoje Universidade Federal de São Paulo), liderada pelo professor Roberto Baruzzi. Os pesquisadores acompanhavam a saúde de cada índio de várias etnias do sul do Xingu, mantinham fichas específicas de todos e as comparavam com a visita anterior. A conclusão era espantosa: não havia ali um só caso de doenças cardiovasculares – exatamente porque, vivendo isolados, os índios não tinham nenhum dos chamados fatores de risco dessas doenças: não fumavam, não bebiam álcool, não tinham vida sedentária nem obesidade, não apresentavam hipertensão, não consumiam sal (só sal vegetal, feito com aguapé) nem açúcar de cana. Saindo do Xingu, fomos documentar grupos de índios caingangues e guaranis aculturados que viviam nas proximidades de Bauru (SP). Os que trabalhavam eram boias-frias e os demais, mendigos, alcoólatras, com perturbações mentais. Praticamente todos eram hipertensos, obesos, com taxas de mortalidade altas e precoces. A comparação foi ao ar num documentário, As Razões do Coração, que teve índices altíssimos de audiência.

São informações que deveriam fazer parte de nossas discussões de hoje, quando estamos às voltas com várias crises na área de saúde – epidemias de dengue (mais de 220 casos novos por hora, 257.809, ou 55% do total, em São Paulo), índices altíssimos de obesidade, inclusive entre jovens e crianças, doenças cardiovasculares entre as mais frequentes causas de morte. Mas em lugar de prestar atenção aos modos de viver de indígenas, enquanto ainda na força de sua cultura, continuamos a tratá-los como seres estranhos, que vivem pelados, não falam nossas línguas, não trabalham segundo nossos padrões. A ponto de eles terem agora de se rebelar para que não se aprove no Congresso Nacional, sob pressão principalmente da “bancada ruralista”, uma proposta de emenda constitucional que lhes retira parte de seus direitos assegurados pela constituição de 1988 e transfere da Funai para o Congresso o poder de demarcar ou não terras indígenas.

Com esses rumos acentuaremos o esquecimento de que eles foram os “donos” de todo o território nacional, do qual foram gradativamente expulsos. Mas ainda são quase 1 milhão de pessoas de 220 povos, que falam 180 línguas, em 27 Estados. Agora avança, inclusive no Judiciário, a tese de que só pode ser reconhecido para demarcação território já ocupado efetivamente por eles antes de 1988. E assim cerca de 300 áreas correm riscos.

Só que nos esquecemos também dos relatórios da ONU, do Banco Mundial e de outras instituições segundo os quais as áreas indígenas são os lugares mais eficazes em conservação da biodiversidade – mais que as reservas legais e outras áreas protegidas. Que seus modos de viver são os que mais impedem desmatamentos – esse problema tão angustiante por sua influência na área do clima e dos regimes de chuvas.

Isso não tem importância apenas para o Brasil. A própria ONU, por meio de sua Agência para a Alimentação e Agricultura (FAO), afirma (Eco-Finanças, 17/4) que a “crise da água” afetará dois terços da população mundial em 2050 (hoje já há algum nível de escassez para 40% da população). E que o fator principal será o maior uso da água para produzir 60% mais alimentos que hoje.

Mas há diferenças de um lugar para outro. Os países ditos desenvolvidos, com menos de 20% da população mundial, consomem quase 80% dos recursos físicos; os Estados Unidos, com 5% da população, respondem por 40% do consumo. Segundo a sua própria Agência de Proteção Ambiental, os EUA jogam no lixo 34 milhões de toneladas anuais de alimentos. No mundo, um terço dos alimentos é desperdiçado (FAO, 5/2), enquanto mais de 800 milhões de pessoas passam fome e mais de 2 bilhões vivem abaixo da linha de pobreza. No Brasil mesmo, 3,4 milhões de pessoas passam fome (Folha de S.Paulo, 22/9/2014). A elas podemos somar mais de 40 milhões de pessoas que vivem do Bolsa Família.

Diante de tudo isso, vale a pena lembrar o depoimento do saudoso psicanalista Hélio Pellegrino, no livro Noel Nutels – Memórias e Depoimentos, sobre o médico que dedicou sua vida a grupos indígenas. “Se estamos destruindo os índios”, escreveu Hélio Pellegrino, “é porque nossa brutalidade chegou a um nível perigoso para nós próprios. Os índios representam a possibilidade humana mais radical e íntima de transar com a natureza (…). Homem e natureza são casados (…). Dissolvido esse casamento, o homem tomba num exílio feito de poeira amarga e estéril”. (O Estado de S. Paulo/ #Envolverde)

Washington Novaes é jornalista. E-mail: wlrnovaes@uol.com.br.

** Publicado originalmente no site O Estado de S. Paulo.

(O Estado de S. Paulo)

Experts Warn of “Cataclysmic” Changes as Planetary Temperatures Rise (Truthout)

Monday, 27 April 2015 00:00 By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report 

Two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded in Antarctica, providing an ominous sign of accelerating ACD as one of the readings came in at just over 63 degrees Fahrenheit. (Photo: Iceberg via Shutterstock)

Two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded in Antarctica, providing an ominous sign of accelerating climate change as one of the readings came in at just more than 63 degrees Fahrenheit. (Photo: Iceberg via Shutterstock)

Climate Disruption DispatchesThis month’s anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) dispatch begins with the fact that recently released National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show that this March was, by far, the hottest planetary March ever recorded, and the hottest January to March period on record as well.

We are watching unprecedented melting of glaciers across the planet, increasingly high temperature records and epic-level droughts that are now becoming the new normal: Planetary distress signals are increasing in volume.

One of these took place recently in Antarctica, of all places, where two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded, providing an ominous sign of accelerating ACD as one of the readings came in at just over 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We’re going to be out of water.”

A fascinating recent report shows that approximately 12 million people living in coastal areas will be displaced during the next 85 years, with areas along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States seeing some of the most dramatic impacts.

In the US, another report shows that the Navajo Nation is literally dying of thirst, with one of the nation’s leaders flatly sounding the alarm by stating, “We’re going to be out of water.”

A study just published in Geophysical Research Lettersbolsters the case that a period of much faster ACD is imminent, if it hasn’t already begun.

On that note, leading climate researchers recently saidthere is a possibility that the world will see a 6-degree Celsius temperature increase by 2100, which would lead to “cataclysmic changes” and “unimaginable consequences for human civilization.”

With these developments in mind, let us take a look at recent developments across the planet since the last dispatch.

Earth

Signs of ACD’s impact across this sector of the planet are once again plentiful, and the fact that the Amazon is suffering is always a very loud alarm buzzer, given that every year the world’s largest rainforest cycles through 18 billion tons of carbon when its 6 million square kilometers of trees breathe in carbon dioxide and then release it back into the atmosphere when they die. This is twice the amount of carbon that fossil fuel burning emits in an entire year. A recent report shows that while the Amazon is continuing to absorb more carbon than it is releasing, a tipping point is coming, and likely soon, as deforestation, drought and fires there continue to remove precious trees at a frightful rate. With 1.5 acres of rainforest lost every single second, somewhere around the world, the situation in the Amazon does not bode well for our future.

In the United States, in Harvard Forest, located 70 miles west of the university’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hemlock trees are dying at an alarming rate. Harvard Forest is a case study, as it is part of a network of 60 forests around the world called the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatories, where they are being studied for their response to ACD and other anthropogenic issues. Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, an ecologist with the network, said its forests are “being impacted by a number of different global change factors. We do expect more of this, be it pests or pathogens or droughts or heat waves or thawing permafrost.”

Another report from April revealed that Russia has been losing an amount of forest the size of Switzerland (16,600 square miles of tree cover) every year, for three years running.

Without ice in the summer, polar bears will starve and die off.

Terrestrial animals continue to struggle to survive in many areas. It should come as no surprise that in the Arctic, a recent studyshows that the theory that polar bears will be able to adapt to ice-free seas in the summer by eating on land has been debunked. Without ice in the summer, polar bears will starve and die off.

Another study shows that ACD is threatening mountain goats, due to the warming that is occurring even at the higher elevations where the goats live, as the rate of warming there is two to three times faster than the rest of the planet. According to the study, due to the warming, the goats’ future is now uncertain.

In California, sea lion strandings have already reached more than 2,250 for this year alone, which is a record. The worsening phenomenon is being blamed on warming seas that are disrupting the food supply of marine mammals.

Across the United States, hunters are seeing their traditions being changed by ACD. “I could point you to a million different forums online where hunters are complaining about the season and how hunting is terrible,” said one hunter in a recent report. “At the end of the day, it’s changing weather patterns. Winters around here are not as cold as they used to be.”

March report from a researcher in Rhode Island showed that the growth and molting rates of juvenile lobsters are decreasing “significantly” due to oceans becoming increasingly acidic from ACD. This makes the animals more vulnerable to predations, thus leading to fewer adult lobsters and an overall rapidly declining population.

Air

There have been a few major developments recently in this sector of our analysis.

Interestingly, some of the more commonly used anesthetics are apparently accumulating in the planet’s atmosphere, thus contributing to warming of the climate, according to a report in April. It is a small amount, mind you, but the volume is increasing.

US greenhouse gas pollution increased 2 percent over the previous year in 2013.

Bad news on the mitigation front comes in the form of a study that revealed that ongoing urban sprawl and auto exhaust is hampering cities’ best efforts toward lowering carbon dioxide emissions. If people continue to drive as much as they are, and development continues apace, the push to build more dense housing, better transit systems and more bike lanes in urban centers will be for naught.

Speaking of lack of mitigation, the US Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that US greenhouse gas pollution increased 2 percent over the previous year in 2013.

Drought plagued California gets more bad news in this sector, as recently released data shows that the state continues to have its warmest year ever recorded, with statewide temperatures coming in nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous record, which was set in 2014. The state is quite literally baking.

Another study showed that the frozen soil (permafrost) of the planets’ northern polar regions that holds billions of tons of organic carbon is melting and that melting is being sped up by ACD, hence releasing even more carbon into our already carbon dioxide-supersaturated atmosphere.

Lastly in this section, those who believe in technological fixes for our predicament received some bad news in April, which came in the form of a report that shows that any attempts to geoengineer the climate are likely to result in “different” climate disruption, rather than an elimination of the problem. The most popular proposed idea of solar radiation management that would utilize stratospheric sulfate aerosols to dim the sun has been proven to be, well, destructive. Using a variety of climate models, Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, has investigated the likely consequences of such geoengineering on agriculture across the globe.

According to a report on the matter:

His research showed that while dimming could rapidly decrease global temperatures, high carbon dioxide levels would be expected to persist, and it is the balance between temperature, carbon dioxide, and sunlight that affects plant growth and agriculture. Exploring the regional effects, he finds that a stratospherically dimmed world would show increased plant productivity in the tropics, but lessened plant growth across the northerly latitudes of America, Europe and Asia. It is easy to see how there might be geopolitical shifts associated with changes in regional food production across the globe. “It’s probably the poor tropics that stand to benefit and the rich north that stands to lose,” said Prof Caldeira.

Hence, given that the results would be detrimental to the “rich north,” which by far and away has pumped more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the “poor tropics,” the results of geoengineering would indeed be karmic.

Water

In the United States, California’s epic drought continues to lead in the water sector of analysis.

For the first time in California’s history, mandatory water use reductions have been imposed on residents after a winter of record-low snowfalls, and hence a record-low snowpack. “People should realize we are in a new era,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a news conference there in April, standing on a patch of brown and green grass that would normally be thick with snow that time of year. “The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.”

Climate scientists also recently announced, disconcertingly, that California’s record-breaking drought is merely a preview of future ACD-generated megadroughts.

Shortly after Brown announced the mandatory water restrictions for his state, another study was released showing that California will also be facing more extreme heat waves, along with rising seas, caused by increasingly intense impacts from ACD. According to the study, the average number of days with temperatures reaching 95 degrees will double or even triple by the end of this century. Simultaneously, at least $19 billion worth of coastal property will literally disappear as sea levels continue to rise.

Experts also announced in April that in “drought-era” California, “every day” should now be considered “fire season.” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert said of California, “We are in an incendiary situation.”

California’s state climatologist, Michael Anderson, issued a very stark warning in April when he said the state faces dust bowl-like conditions, as he compared the water crisis in California to the legendary US dustbowl. “You’re looking on numbers that are right on par with what was the Dust Bowl,” he said.

Forty out of the 50 US states will face a water shortage within the next 10 years.

As aforementioned, this year’s dry, warm winter has left the entire western United States snowpack at record-low levels. Given that this is a critical source of fresh surface water for the entire region, this will only exacerbate the already critical water shortages that are plaguing the region.

One ramification of this is exampled by how the once-powerful Rio Grande River has been reduced to a mere trickle still hundreds of miles from its destination at the end of its 1,900-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico, thanks to the increasing impacts of ACD. Farmers and residents who rely on it for water are in deep trouble.

And it’s not just California and the US Southwest that are dealing with major water shortages. The Government Accountability Office recently released a report showing that 40 out of the 50 US states will face a water shortage within the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, up in Alaska, that state’s iconic Iditarod sled dog race has been reduced to having mushers have their dogs drag their sleds across large swaths of mud that spanned over 100 miles in some areas, due to warmer temperatures there melting snow and ice that used to cover the course. “I love the challenge, being able to overcome anything on the trail,” said four-time winner Martin Buser of the new conditions. “But if this is a new normal, I’m not sure I can sustain it.”

In this writer’s backyard, glaciers are melting away at dramatic rates in Olympic National Park. Pictures tell the story, which was also addressed in detail recently at a talk given at the park by University of Washington research professor Michelle Koutnik, who was part of a team monitoring the park’s Blue Glacier. By way of example, an entire section of the lower Blue Glacier that existed in 1989 was completely gone by 2008, and melt rates are increasing. A sobering “before and after” look at the photographic evidence should not be missed.

A recent study gave another grim report on glaciers, this one focusing on Canada where glaciers in British Columbia and Alberta are projected to shrink by at least 70 percent by the end of this century, and of course ACD was noted as the main driving force behind the change. “Most of that is going to go,” one of the researchers said of Canada’s glaciers. “And most seems to be on its way out.”

study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that as the Arctic Ocean warms and loses its sea ice cover, phytoplankton populations will explode. This creates another positive feedback loop for ACD, as it further amplifies warming in a region that is already heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

On the other end of the water spectrum, rising seas continue to afflict Venice, where the city is seeing dramatic changes. According to a recent report: “In the 1920s, there were about 400 incidents of acqua alta, or high water, when the right mix of tides and winds drives the liquid streets up into homes and shops in the lowers parts of the city. By the 1990s, there were 2,400 incidents – and new records are set every year.”

Fire

An April report shows that ACD is predicted to bring more fires and less snow to the iconic Yellowstone National Park. These changes will likely fuel catastrophic wildfires, cause declines in mountain snows and threaten the survival of animals and plants, according to the scientists who authored the report. It shows that expected warming over the US West over the next three decades will transform the land in and around Yellowstone from a wetter, mostly forested Rocky Mountain ecosystem into a more open landscape, more akin to the arid US Southwest.

“Ecological Implications of Climate Change on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” compiled by more than 20 university and government scientists, said that such dry conditions in that area have not been seen for the last 10,000 years, and extremely destructive wildfires like the one in 1988 that burned thousands of acres of the park are going to become more common, while years without major fires will become rare.

Denial and Reality

The climate disruption deniers have been barking loudly over the last month, which should be expected as irrefutable evidence of ACD continues in an avalanche.

Following Florida’s lead, Wisconsin officially became the next state to censor its employees’ work regarding climate disruption. Wisconsin has banned its employees from working on ACD, after Florida banned the use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming.”

Perhaps this is what played a role in inspiring acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to proclaim that politicians denying science is “the beginning of the end of an informed democracy.”

Facing a loss of high-profile corporate sponsors, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), now tired of being accused of ACD denial, has threatened actionagainst activist groups that accuse it of denying ACD. This “action” could come in the form of lawsuits.

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released very interesting county-by-county maps of the United States, which show the various levels of ACD denial across the country and are worth examining.

Over the last four years, extreme weather events in the US caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses.

Not to be outdone by fellow Republican ACD-denying presidential candidates, Marco Rubio voluntarily donned the dunce cap by stating that scientists have not determined what percentage of ACD is due to human activities compared to natural climate variability, and added brilliantly, “climate is always changing.”

This year has seen us cross yet another milestone in the Arctic – this one being that sea ice covering the top of the world reached the lowest maximum extent yet observed during the winter. This means, ominously, that in just the last four years Arctic sea ice has seen a new low both for its seasonal winter peak (2015) and for its summer minimum (2012). While most sane people would see this as a gut-wrenching fact to have to process emotionally, Robert Molnar, the CEO of the Sailing the Arctic Race, is busily planning an “extreme yacht race” for the summer and fall of 2017 there. “The more ice that’s being melted, the more free water is there for us to be sailing,” he said.

In stark contrast, US Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting the Arctic amid concerns over the melting ice, and some of the mainstream media, in this case The Washington Post, are running op-eds claiming that ACD deniers are actually now in retreat due to their own outlandish comments.

In a historic move, even oil giant BP’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly to support a resolution that would force the company to disclose some of its ACD-related risks.

Also on the reality front, recently released analysis shows that densely populated Asian islands and countries like Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines are likely to face even more intense climatic events in the future.

Another report, this one titled “An Era of Extreme Weather” by the Center for American Progress, shows that major weather events across the United States in 2014 cost an estimated $19 billion and caused at least 65 human fatalities. The report also shows that over the last four years, extreme weather events in the US caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses spanning 44 states.

US President Barack Obama formally submitted to the UN a commitment to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Critics believe this is far too little, too late, but at least it is a move in the right direction.

In an interesting twist of fate, while many Florida Republican lawmakers are busily denying ACD, other Florida Republicans are busy working to protect their state’s coastal areas from rising seas resulting from advancing ACD.

Lastly in this month’s dispatch, a recently published study shows that acidic oceans helped fuel the largest mass extinction event in the history of the planet, which wiped out approximately 90 percent of all life on earth.

The carbon released that was one of the primary drivers of that extinction event was found to have been released at a similar rate to modern emissions. Dr. Matthew Clarkson, one of the authors of the study, commented: “Scientists have long suspected that an ocean acidification event occurred during the greatest mass extinction of all time, but direct evidence has been lacking until now. This is a worrying finding, considering that we can already see an increase in ocean acidity today that is the result of human carbon emissions.”

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission

Drought Frames Economic Divide of Californians (New York Times)

COMPTON, Calif. — Alysia Thomas, a stay-at-home mother in this working-class city, tells her children to skip a bath on days when they do not play outside; that holds down the water bill. Lillian Barrera, a housekeeper who travels 25 miles to clean homes in Beverly Hills, serves dinner to her family on paper plates for much the same reason. In the fourth year of a severe drought, conservation is a fine thing, but in this Southern California community, saving water means saving money.

The challenge of California’s drought is starkly different in Cowan Heights, a lush oasis of wealth and comfort 30 miles east of here. That is where Peter L. Himber, a pediatric neurologist, has decided to stop watering the gently sloping hillside that he spent $100,000 to turn into a green California paradise, seeding it with a carpet of rich native grass and installing a sprinkler system fit for a golf course. But that is also where homeowners like John Sears, a retired food-company executive, bristle with defiance at the prospect of mandatory cuts in water use.

“This is a high fire-risk area,” Mr. Sears said. “If we cut back 35 percent and all these homes just let everything go, what’s green will turn brown. Tell me how the fire risk will increase.”

The fierce drought that is gripping the West — and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California — is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity. The daily water consumption rate was 572.4 gallons per person in Cowan Heights from July through September 2014, the hot and dry summer months California used to calculate community-by-community water rationing orders; it was 63.6 gallons per person in Compton during that same period.

Now, California is trying to turn that dynamic on its head, forcing the state’s biggest water users, which include some of the wealthiest communities, to bear the brunt of the statewide 25 percent cut in urban water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown. Cowan Heights is facing a 36 percent cut in its water use, compared with 8 percent for Compton.

Other wealthy communities that must cut 36 percent include Beverly Hills and Hillsborough, a luxury town in Silicon Valley. Along with Compton, other less wealthy communities facing more modest cuts include Inglewood, which has been told to reduce its water consumption by 12 percent over what it was in 2013.

The looming question now, with drought regulations set to be adopted next month, is whether conservation tools being championed by this state — $10,000-a-day fines for water agencies, higher prices for bigger water users or even, in the most extreme cases, a reduction in water supplies — will be effective with wealthy homeowners. Since their lawns are more often than not tended to by gardeners, they may have little idea just how much water they use.

Gail Lord in her garden in Cowan Heights, which is facing a 36 percent cut in its water use.CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times 

As it is, the legality of conservation — the practice of charging higher water rates to people who consume more for big water use — came under question when a court ruled that a tiered-pricing system used by an Orange County city ran afoul of the State Constitution and sent it back to allow the city to try to bring it into compliance.

“The wealthy use more water, electricity and natural gas than anyone else,” said Stephanie Pincetl, the director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They have bigger properties. They are less price sensitive. So if you can afford it, you use it.”

“Then it becomes a moral question,” she said. “But lots of wealthy people don’t pay their own bills, so they don’t know what the water costs.”

Brown Lawns vs. Lush Ones

In Compton, where residents often pay their bills in cash or installments, lawns are brown and backyard pools are few or empty. In Cowan Heights, where residents are involved in a rancorous dispute with a water company over rate increases, water is a luxury worth paying for as homeowners shower their lush lawns and top off pools and koi ponds.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

The Times asked Californians for their thoughts on the drought and how it affects them.

John Montgomery, Oak Park : “It doesn’t matter whether you are conservative or liberal, a religious fundamentalist or a raging athiest, rich or poor, we all need drinking water, and we all eat things that need water to grow to be very simple about it.”

Stephen Babatsias, Los Angeles: “Rich neighborhoods with lush gardens, like Hancock Park, are still as rich and lush looking as before, filled with oxygen and opulent foliage. Everything looks and feels the same so far.”

Edie Marshall, Davis: “Call it fatalistic, but why should I try even harder when so many have done little or nothing? I’m not going to cut back on my showers while rich people in southern California have nice lawns”

Kathleen Naples, Avalon: “Catalina Island has a desal plant with old diesel generators which could be updated and co-generation could be used. Edison runs it very poorly. This is a tourist economy, so tourists waste water and residents are fined and suffer shut-offs.”

Cheryl Trout, Palm Desert: “We are in a 5,000 home golf course community, which has recycled it’s waste water since it was built for watering golf courses and community landscaping. It would be nice if that water could also be used for individual yards. More communities need to switch to this model.”

Daniel Sawyer, San Bernardino: “I am pretty conscientious about water, energy, and waste, so I appreciate this official acknowledgement of the problem. I foresee a lot of Californians paying fines and fees because they will recklessly continue to waste water despite Governor Brown’s orders.”

“Just because you can afford to use something doesn’t mean you should,” said Aja Brown, the mayor of Compton, as she sat in her second-floor office with windows overlooking the light-rail Blue Line tracks that cut through town. “We’re all in this together. We all have to make sure we consume less.”

Hints of class resentment can be heard on the streets of Compton.

“I have a garden — it’s dying,” said Ms. Barrera, the housekeeper, as she left the water department at Compton City Hall, where she had just paid a $253 two-month water bill. “My grass is drying. I try to save water. In Beverly Hills, they have a big garden and run laundry all the time. It doesn’t matter.”

Rod Lopez, a contractor from Compton who tends to homes here and along the wealthy Newport Beach coast, said he was startled at the different attitudes he found toward water consumption in communities just 30 miles apart.

“I work in Newport Beach: I see water running all day long,” he said. “We’ve gotten so tight over here. Everything is irrigated over there. They may get fined for it — they don’t care. They have the money to pay the fines.”

Compton and Cowan Heights, which is 10 miles from Disneyland, could hardly be more different, and it is not only a matter of water. The median household income in Compton is $42,953, and 26 percent of the population lives below the poverty line; 67 percent of the population is Hispanic. In North Tustin, the census-designated community that includes Cowan Heights, the median household income is $122,662, and less than 3 percent of the population lives below the poverty line; 84 percent of the population is white.

Since the first homes sprang up in Cowan Heights in the 1950s in what had been hilly horse pastures, water and money have made this neighborhood of doctors, lawyers and wealthy retirees bloom. Even as the drought has worsened and water rates have climbed, residents have continued consuming hundreds of gallons a day and paying — albeit with more than a little grousing — water bills that have soared to $400 or $500 a month.

Many people say they are trying to use less: They are capping their sprinkler systems, installing expensive new drip-watering systems or replacing their thirsty lawns with starkly beautiful desert landscapes. But they can also afford to buy their way out of the drought, assuming that fines will be the primary punishment for those who do not conserve, and that the water will keep flowing for those who can pay.

Some Cowan Heights residents say their neighbors have enough money not to pay heed to rising prices, and are content to let their landscapers use as much water as necessary to keep their homes in bloom. Landscapers’ trucks are parked around nearly every twisting road, tending to avocado and lemon trees, plush lawns, and riots of purple hibiscus and scarlet bougainvillea.

“They don’t even think about it,” said Gail Lord, a resident who keeps a blog cataloging the gardens around Cowan Heights.

Salvador Garcia, a gardener, mowed a lawn in Compton, where 26 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and which is already using less water by financial necessity.Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times 

On Deerhaven Drive, Craig Beam and his wife saw their water-scarce future after a landscaper stomped at the base of their Chinese elm and declared the roots hollow and parched. “Nobody’s going to go broke around here paying their water bills,” Mr. Beam said.

Still, in a sign that even the wealthy have their limits, the drought is exacerbating a dispute between Cowan Heights residents and their for-profit water provider, the Golden State Water Company, offering a glimpse of fights to come as local water agencies impose higher prices to meet California’s new conservation mandates. The neighborhood is bristling with lawn signs reading, “Stop the Water Ripoff!”

Calculating Costs

Residents complain their water bills have soared as Golden State Water imposed a three-tier pricing system that charges more for higher water use, the kind of conservation pricing that state water regulators are championing. The company is now seeking to add a fourth, even higher price tier. “Golden State Water’s rates reflect the true cost to operate and maintain the water system,” said Denise Kruger, a senior vice president of the company.

That has not appeased water users.

Ms. Lord and her husband, Alan Bartky, outside their home in Cowan Heights, where the median household income is $122,662. CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times 

“Water is a necessity of life,” said Mr. Sears, the retired food-company executive, whose bimonthly water bills regularly run $400 or $500 but went as high as $756 last September. “It should not be sold as a commodity.”

Thirty miles away, the economy in Compton is on the upswing as this region comes out of the recession. Still, Compton Boulevard, the axis around which the 127-year-old community was settled, is filled with reminders of the poverty and crime that are still here: Check-cashing stores and bail bondsmen. Many homes have gates over their windows.

Compton has a storied history of gang wars and has produced some of the bigger names in rap music, including Kendrick Lamar and Ice Cube. The unemployment rate in Compton was 11.8 percent in February, compared with 6.7 percent statewide. (There are no comparable numbers for Cowan Heights, since it is an unincorporated region.)

This city is a neat grid of postage-stamp-size front lawns, many of them brown or choked with weeds. There are few pools or ornamental fountains in this part of the county; the fountains in front of City Hall have been turned off.

After not budging for 25 years, water prices began rising in 2005 and have increased about 93 percent since then. The city, which has 81,963 water consumers, has also set up a two-tiered system to charge heavier users more, though it remains to be seen if that and other tiered systems will be challenged in the wake of the court ruling in Orange County last week. A typical water bill here is $70 a month.

Alysia Thomas with her daughter Raven and son Darian outside their home in Compton, where a typical water bill is $70 a month. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times 

“To me the issue is keeping down the cost,” said Ms. Thomas, 41, the stay-at-home mother. “Conservation is a cost-saving thing for me.” She leaned over the fence of her home that she shares with her husband and children, looking over her compact patch of lawn that surrounds her home and another small cottage, where her mother lives.

Chad Blais, the deputy director of public works at Compton, said people often paid their water bill in cash or pleaded for an extension. “We do have a large community that is month-to-month on their pay,” he said. “They don’t have a high water usage mainly because they can’t afford it. They’ll call and tell us they’re choosing to pay for food or medicine.”

Under Governor Brown’s 25 percent statewide reduction order, about 400 local water agencies are responsible for cuts ranging from 4 percent to 36 percent. Water companies are limiting how often people can water their yards — twice a week for Golden State customers — and barring them from washing down pavement or using drinking water to wash a car.

If water providers cannot get customers to conserve enough voluntarily, they can resort to financial penalties: Golden State said it would fine offenders in Cowan Heights and other communities it serves $500 a day.

California’s water-control board has zeroed in on Cowan Heights and its 5,399 water customers as some of the most spendthrift water users. The benchmark measurement from last summer put it high on the list of 94 water districts that must cut their water use by 36 percent under the proposed new rules.

Compton residents often pay their water bills in cash or installments at City Hall.Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times 

“It is somewhat of an outlier,” Toby Moore, the chief hydrogeologist for Golden State Water, said of Cowan Heights. “There’s been a lot of investment into those properties, so water use is higher to address the landscaping of those properties.”

Some people in Cowan Heights are planning to let their lawns go brown, though more out of a spirit of conservation than economic necessity.

“We’ll replace that with rocks,” said Dr. Himber, the neurologist, as he and his landscaper walked the grounds.

Ms. Lord, the blogger, walked around her home, tucked amid flower-splashed hillsides behind a stately automated gate, and surveyed her roses with a fatalistic eye. “Doomed,” she said, nodding at the flowers, blooming wedding-white and dance-hall pink. “Doomed.”

‘A Bad Message’

About 80 percent of the water in this state is used by agriculture, so the amount of water that might be saved by cuts in wealthy and relatively sparsely populated areas will not be large.

But the disparity in behavior is a matter of concern among state water regulators, as is the worry that high prices will not have the same kind of impact on water use in, say, Cowan Heights as they might in Compton.

“That is the challenge,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water for about 19 million people. “We are finding it works with 90 percent of the public. You still have certain wealthy communities that won’t bother. And the price penalty doesn’t impact them. It sends a bad message.”

David L. Feldman, who studies water policy at the University of California, Irvine, said a big risk for state water regulators would be if the public concluded that water-conservation policies were “falling disproportionately on those who are less able to meet those goals.”

Ms. Barrera, the housekeeper, said she had thought she was doing her part, and she spoke of the lush gardens and sweeping pools she sees in Beverly Hills.

“I’m using a lot less,” Ms. Barrera said. At that, she glanced down at the just-paid water bill she was still holding in her hand. “But I guess it’s not enough.”

Puppy-Dog Eyes of Science (Savage Minds)

April 24, 2015 – John Hartigan

“Scientists say…” It’s interesting what natural science research starts making the rounds on social media. Mostly on diet or health broadly, and increasingly concerning climate change. On rare occasion—as over the past few days—some reports surface that offer insight into the circulating clutter itself, as in “cute dog” photos. In this instance, they’re opportunities to glimpse changing understandings of big topics, like domestication and evolution.

Links for two articles recently popped up in my Twitter feed: “The Science of Puppy-Dog Eyes” (NYTimes, 4/21/14) and “The Guilty Looking Companion,” Scientific American(4/20/15), both treating the gazing behavior of dogs and its various effects on humans. The first, by Jan Hoffman, reported on a study published in Science (in a themed-column on evolution), titled, “Dogs hijack the human bonding pathway.” The second, by Julie Hecht, “The Guilty Looking Companion,” builds off an article in Behavioral Processes, on a tangled question: “Are owners’ reports of their dogs’ ‘guilty look’ influenced by the dogs’ action and evidence of the misdeed?” Both suggest a far more agential companion species than many people might’ve suspected, but more importantly they each complicate stock domestication narratives suggesting it was something we simply did to them. They also suggest opportunities for extending social analysis beyond the human.

As the title of the Science article suggests, dogs were possibly canny drivers of domestication: “dogs became domesticated in part by adapting to human means of communication: eye contact.” In particular, the speculation is that dogs cleverly “utilized a natural system meant for bonding a parent with his or her child.” Evolutionarily, “the challenge for dogs may simply have been to express a behavioral (and morphological) repertoire that mimicked the cues that elicit caregiving toward our own young. Indeed, these juvenile characteristics of dogs are known to carry a selective advantage with respect to human preferences.” So dogs wile their way into our good graces by coopting the cuteness channel we have for children. To complicate agency a bit further, this seems to all hinge on a bidirectional hormonal mechanism: people and dogs both develop heightened, pleasurable levels of oxytocin from protracted gazing into each other’s eyes. “These findings suggest not only an interspecific effect of oxytocin, but also the exciting possibility of a feedback loop,” since “shifts in oxytocin concentration in a dog might elicit similar changes in a human and vice-versa—just as when a mother bonds with her infant.” Domestication just got a good deal more interesting.

“The guilty looking companion” takes up the theme of sociality and how social bonds are respectively maintained in various species, but also how humans might be duped by our tendency to anthropomorphize dogs as possessing a subjective state approximating shame. The reparative behaviors of appeasement and reconciliation that maintain relationships, practiced by many species, when manifested by dogs, reads easily, to us, as “guilt.” But through a fascinating series of experiments, researchers countered that these canine gestures are just “cohesive displays,” which operate “to reduce conflict, diffuse tension, and reinforce social bonds.” Dogs are not responding to ameliorating a subjective sense of shame at transgressing rules; they are instead “incredibly sensitive to environmental and social cues.” If there’s furniture torn or overturned, the owner is looking for someone to chastise—better grovel or cringe. These behavior are very effective, according to surveys of dog owners, who withhold punishments in the wake of such displays. But Hecht concludes with a caution: “It might just be that we’re anthropomorphizing,” in reference to the viral spew of “dog shamming” photos. “Which, in this case, might not be good for us or our dogs.” Indeed, but what is even more valuable here is the perspective opened up onto thinking about parallel and converging forms of species sociality, beyond the question of who is domesticating who.

On that topic, another recently published science article pursues just these openings, though unfortunately it does not seem to be circulating widely at all. “Testing the myth: Tolerant dogs and aggressive wolves,” in Proceedings B (Royal Society Publishing) reports on findings that indicate “a steeper dominance hierarchy in dogs than in wolves.” While “tolerance” is supposed to be the character trait “selected for,” dogs appear far more aggressive and uncooperative with conspecifics than wolves. The problem with “all domestication theories” to date is that they’ve ignored “apparently contradictory behaviours…observed in dogs and wolf packs.” There’s an enormous amount to this piece, but it may come down to “face,” as Erving Goffman developed the concept. “Visual communication in dogs is somewhat impaired due to their reduced visual (facial as well as bodily) expressions,” which “might lead to an inability to control conflicts in close quarters.” Wolves are far more articulate in reading both gaze and facial features in conspecific communications. Range et al write, “Although dogs and wolves seem to use the same signals overall, it is possible that dogs do not use them as appropriately as wolves”—i.e., they haven’t refined the etiquette of conspecific communications quite as well, though they’re very good at circumventing our conspecific gaze signaling tendencies.

But that “wolves appear tolerant, attentive, and at the same time cooperative towards pack members” is in stark “contrast to the starting point of several recent domestication hypotheses.” Free-ranging dogs—constituting about 76-83% of the global dog population!!—not so much. So the questions swirl as to dogs’ cognitive and emotional processes underlying their intraspecific sociality and how that variously aligns with ours, in the deep past and today.

Earthquake Devastates Nepal, Killing More Than 1,900 (New York Times)

NEW DELHI — A powerful earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, killing more than 1,900 people, flattening sections of the city’s historic center, and trapping dozens of sightseers in a 200-foot watchtower that came crashing down into a pile of bricks.

As officials in Nepal faced the devastation on Sunday morning, they said that most of the 1,931 deaths occurred in Katmandu and the surrounding valley, and that more than 4,700 people had been injured. But the quake touched a vast expanse of the subcontinent. It set off avalanches around Mount Everest, where at least 17 climbers died. At least 34 deaths occurred in northern India. Buildings swayed in Tibet and Bangladesh.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8, struck shortly before noon, and residents of Katmandu ran into the streets and other open spaces as buildings fell, throwing up clouds of dust. Wide cracks opened on paved streets and in the walls of city buildings. Motorcycles tipped over and slid off the edge of a highway.

Devastation in Katmandu. A deadly earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, and set off avalanches around Mount Everest. By Rajneesh Bhandari and Colin Archdeacon on  Publish Date April 25, 2015. 

By midafternoon, the United States Geological Survey had counted 12 aftershocks, one of which measured 6.6.

Seismologists have expected a major earthquake in western Nepal, where there is pent-up pressure from the grinding between tectonic plates, the northern Eurasian plate and the up-thrusting Indian plate. Still, witnesses described a chaotic rescue effort during the first hours after the quake as emergency workers and volunteers grabbed tools and bulldozers from construction sites, and dug with hacksaws, mangled reinforcing bars and their hands.

Though many have worried about the stability of the concrete high-rises that have been hastily erected in Katmandu, the most terrible damage on Saturday was to the oldest part of the city, which is studded with temples and palaces made of wood and unmortared brick.

Four of the area’s seven Unesco World Heritage sites were severely damaged in the earthquake: Bhaktapur Durbar Square, a temple complex built in the shape of a conch shell; Patan Durbar Square, which dates to the third century; Basantapur Durbar Square, which was the residence of Nepal’s royal family until the 19th century; and the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas.

For many, the most breathtaking architectural loss was the nine-story Dharahara Tower, which was built in 1832 on the orders of the queen. The tower had recently reopened to the public, and visitors could ascend a spiral staircase to a viewing platform around 200 feet above the city.

The walls were brick, around one and a half feet thick, and when the earthquake struck, they came crashing down.

The police said on Saturday that they had pulled about 60 bodies from the rubble of the tower. Kashish Das Shrestha, a photographer and writer, spent much of the day in the old city, but said he still had trouble grasping that the tower was gone.

“I was here yesterday, I was here the day before yesterday, and it was there,” he said. “Today it’s just gone. Last night, from my terrace, I was looking at the tower. And today I was at the tower — and there is no tower.”

Kanak Mani Dixit, a Nepalese political commentator, said he had been having lunch with his parents when the quake struck. The rolling was so intense and sustained that he had trouble getting to his feet, he said. He helped his father and an elderly neighbor to safety in the garden outside and then had to carry his elderly mother.

“And I had time to do all that while the quake was still going on,” Mr. Dixit said. “It was like being on a boat in heavy seas.”

Nepal’s Landmarks, Before and After the Earthquake: The earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 flattened sections of Katmandu’s historic center, where many structures were made with bricks.

Roger Bilham, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado, said the shaking lasted about one minute, although it continued for another minute in some places.

For years, people have worried about an earthquake of this magnitude in western Nepal. Many feared that an immense death toll would result, in part because construction has been largely unregulated in recent years, said Ganesh K. Bhattari, a Nepalese expert on earthquakes, now living in Denmark.

He said the government had made some buildings more robust and reinforced vulnerable ones, but many larger buildings, like hospitals and old-age homes, remained extremely vulnerable. “There is a little bit of improvement,” he said. “But it is really difficult for people to implement the rules and the regulations.”

Kunda Dixit, the editor of The Nepali Times, said that Nepal was still emerging from many years of turmoil — a decade-long war with Maoist insurgents, followed by chronic political uncertainty — and that contingency planning for events like earthquakes had often taken a back seat to “present disasters.”

“The government hasn’t been able to get around to a lot of things, not just disaster preparedness,” Mr. Dixit said.

Earthquake in Nepal Kills Hundreds. An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.8 shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, flattening sections of the city’s historic center. By Reuters on  Publish Date April 25, 2015. 

Saturday’s earthquake struck when schools were not in session, which may have reduced the death toll. But there was not yet a full picture of the damage to villages on the mountain ridges around Katmandu, where families live in houses made of mud and thatch.

As night fell, aftershocks were still hitting, prompting waves of screaming. Many residents sat on roads for much of the day, afraid to go back indoors, and many insisted that they would spend the night outside despite the cold. Thousands camped out at the city’s parade ground. The city’s shops were running short of bottled water, dry food and telephone charge cards.

Toward evening, hospitals were trying to accommodate a huge influx of patients, some with amputated limbs, and were running short of supplies like bandages and trauma kits, said Jamie McGoldrick, resident coordinator with the United Nations Development Program in Nepal. Water supplies, a problem under normal circumstances in this fast-growing city, will almost certainly run short, he said.

Search and rescue personnel will face the challenge of reaching villages nearer the quake’s epicenter, about 50 miles northwest of Katmandu, where damage may be catastrophic.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the American ambassador to Nepal, Peter W. Bodde, had issued a disaster declaration that would allow $1 million in humanitarian assistance to be available immediately. A disaster response team and an urban search-and-rescue team from the United States Agency for International Development will also be deployed, he said in a statement,

China and India, which jockey for influence in the region, have pledged disaster assistance.

On Mount Everest, several hundred trekkers were attempting an ascent when the earthquake struck, setting off avalanches, according to climbers there. Alex Gavan, a hiker at base camp, called it a “huge disaster” on Twitter and described “running for life from my tent.” Nima Namgyal Sherpa, a tour guide at base camp, said in a Facebook post that many camps had been destroyed.

Tremors from the quake were felt across northern India, rattling bookcases and light fixtures as far away as New Delhi. Electricity was switched off for safety reasons in the Indian state of Bihar, where three deaths were reported in one district, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, India’s minister of skill development, told reporters in New Delhi. Two deaths were reported in another district.

The region has been the site of the largest earthquakes in the Himalayas, including a 2005 quake in the Kashmir region and a 1905 earthquake in Kangra, India.

Conservative think tank seeks to change Pope Francis’s mind on climate change (The Guardian)

Heartland Institute wants to lobby Vatican before pope delivers a moral call to climate action this summer

pope francis vatican

Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and moral duty is expected to be released this summer followed by a meeting with the United Nations. Photograph: Massimo Valicchia/Demotix/Corbis

A US activist group that has received funding from energy companies and the foundation controlled by conservative activist Charles Koch is trying to persuade the Vatican that “there is no global warming crisis” ahead of an environmental statement by Pope Francis this summer that is expected to call for strong action to combat climate change.

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative thinktank that seeks to discredit established science on climate change, said it was sending a team of climate scientists to Rome “to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science”.

“Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate,” Joseph Bast, Heartland’s president, said in a statement.

Jim Lakely, a Heartland spokesman, said the thinktank was “working on” securing a meeting with the Vatican. “I think Catholics should examine the evidence for themselves, and understand that the Holy Father is an authority on spiritual matters, not scientific ones,” he said.

A 2013 survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals found that 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity.

The lobbying push underlines the sensitivity surrounding Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, whose aim will be to frame the climate change issue as a moral imperative.

While it is not yet clear exactly what the encyclical will say, Pope Francis has been an outspoken advocate for action on the issue. In a speech in March, Cardinal Peter Turkson, who has played a key role in drafting the document, said Pope Francis was not attempting a “greening of the church”, but instead would emphasise that “for the Christian, to care for God’s ongoing work of creation is a duty, irrespective of the causes of climate change”.

The encyclical is expected to be released in June or July, and Pope Francis is expected to use a planned address before the United Nations in September to discuss the statement.

Any push by the Vatican on climate change could prove politically challenging for conservative Catholic lawmakers in the US who have denied the veracity of climate change science and fought against regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

The American Petroleum Institute, the biggest lobby group representing oil companies in Washington, declined to respond directly to questions from the Guardian about whether it was lobbying the Vatican on the issue.

But – in a sign of how energy groups and those who oppose greenhouse gas regulations are framing their argument to the Vatican – it said that “fossil fuels are a a vital tool for lifting people out of poverty around the world, which is something we’re committed to”.

Heartland has also targeted its argument to appeal to the pope’s views on poverty. It said in a press release that the world’s poor would “suffer horribly if reliable energy – the engine of prosperity and a better life – is made more expensive and less reliable by the decree of global planners”.

The group’s trip to Rome is designed to coincide with a workshop hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Tuesday called Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity, which will feature speeches by Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs.

The Vatican declined to comment.

The Heartland Institute says it is a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote “free-market solutions” to social and economic problems. It does not disclose its donors, but says on its website that it has received a single donation of $25,000 in 2012 from the Charles G Koch Foundation, which was for the group’s work on health care policy. Charles Koch is the billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries, an oil refining and chemicals group, and is a major donor to Republicans causes and politicians.

Heartland said contributions from oil and tobacco groups have never amounted to more than 5% of its income.

Alteração comportamental de animais sinaliza, dias antes, a ocorrência de terremotos (Pesquisa Fapesp)

27 de abril de 2015

Estudo realizado no Parque Nacional Yanachaga, no Peru, correlacionou mudanças de comportamento de aves e pequenos mamíferos com a ionização da atmosfera causada pelo atrito subterrâneo das rochas (roedor paca [Cuniculus paca] filmado por uma camera tipo ‘motion-triggered’ / foto TEAM Network; teamnetwork.org)

José Tadeu Arantes | Agência FAPESP – O dado de que alterações no comportamento dos animais sinalizam, com horas ou dias de antecedência, eventos como os terremotos já era conhecido. Especialmente noticiada foi a disparada dos elefantes asiáticos para terras altas por ocasião do terremoto seguido de tsunami de 26 de dezembro de 2004. Muitas vidas humanas foram salvas graças a isso. Mas tais eventos ainda não haviam sido documentados de maneira rigorosa e conclusiva. Nem fora estabelecida uma correlação de causa e efeito entre essa modificação do comportamento animal e fenômenos físicos mensuráveis.

Isso ocorreu agora em pesquisa realizada por Rachel Grant, da Anglia Ruskin University (Reino Unido), Friedemann Freund, da agência espacial Nasa (Estados Unidos), e Jean-Pierre Raulin, do Centro de Radioastronomia e Astrofísica Mackenzie (Brasil). Artigo relatando o estudo, “Changes in Animal Activity Prior to a Major (M=7) Earthquake in the Peruvian Andes”, foi publicado na revista Physics and Chemistry of the Earth.

O físico Jean-Pierre Raulin, professor da Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, participou do estudo no contexto do projeto de pesquisa “Monitoramento da atividade solar e da Anomalia Magnética do Atlântico Sul (AMAS) utilizando uma rede de receptores de ondas de muita baixa frequência (VLF) – SAVNET – South América VLF network”, apoiado pela FAPESP.

“Nosso estudo correlacionou alterações no comportamento de aves e pequenos mamíferos do Parque Nacional Yanachaga, no Peru, com distúrbios na ionosfera terrestre, ambos os fenômenos verificados vários dias antes do terremoto Contamana, de 7,0 graus de magnitude na escala Richter, que ocorreu nos Andes peruanos em 2011”, disse Raulin à Agência FAPESP.

Os animais foram monitorados por um conjunto de câmeras. “Para não interferir em seu comportamento, essas câmeras eram acionadas de forma automática no momento em que o animal passava na sua frente, registrando a passagem por meio de flash de luz infravermelha”, detalhou o pesquisador. Em um dia comum, cada animal era avistado de cinco a 15 vezes. Porém, no intervalo de 23 dias que antecedeu o terremoto, o número de avistamentos por animal caiu para cinco ou menos. E, em cinco dos sete dias imediatamente anteriores ao evento sísmico, nenhum movimento de animal foi registrado.

Nessa mesma época, por meio do monitoramento das propriedades de propagação de ondas de rádio de muito baixa frequência (VLF), os pesquisadores detectaram, duas semanas antes do terremoto, perturbações na ionosfera sobre a área ao redor do epicentro. Um distúrbio especialmente grande da ionosfera foi registrado oito dias antes do terremoto, coincidindo com o segundo decréscimo no avistamento dos animais.

Os pesquisadores propuseram uma explicação capaz de correlacionar os dois fenômenos. Segundo eles, a formação maciça de íons positivos, devido à fricção subterrânea das rochas durante o período anterior ao terremoto, teria provocado tanto as perturbações medidas na ionosfera quanto a alteração comportamental dos animais. A fricção é resultado da subducção ou deslizamento da placa tectônica de Nazca sob a placa tectônica continental.

É sabido que a maior concentração de íons positivos na atmosfera provoca, seja em animais, seja em humanos, um aumento dos níveis de serotonina na corrente sanguínea. Isso leva à chamada “síndrome da serotonina”, caracterizada por maior agitação, hiperatividade e confusão. O fenômeno é semelhante à inquietação, facilmente perceptível em humanos, que ocorre antes das tempestades, quando a concentração de elétrons nas bases das nuvens também provoca um acúmulo de íons positivos na camada da atmosfera próxima ao solo, gerando um intenso campo elétrico no espaço intermediário.

“No caso dos terremotos, cargas positivas formadas no subsolo devido ao estresse das rochas migram rapidamente para a superfície, resultando na ionização maciça de moléculas do ar. Em algumas horas, os íons positivos assim formados alcançam a base da ionosfera, localizada cerca de 70 quilômetros acima do solo. Esse aporte maciço de íons teria provocado as flutuações da densidade eletrônica na baixa ionosfera que detectamos. Por outro lado, durante o trânsito subterrâneo das cargas positivas, devido a uma espécie de ‘efeito de ponta’, a ionização tende a se acumular perto das elevações topográficas locais – exatamente onde estavam localizadas as câmeras. Nossa hipótese foi que, para se livrar dos sintomas indesejáveis da síndrome da serotonina, os animais fugiram para áreas mais baixas, onde a ionização não é tão expressiva”, explicou Raulin.

“Acreditamos que ambas as anomalias surgiram a partir de uma única causa: a atividade sísmica causando estresse na crosta terrestre e levando, entre outras coisas, à enorme ionização na interface solo-ar. Esperamos que nosso trabalho possa estimular ainda mais a investigação na área, que tem o potencial de auxiliar as previsões de curto prazo de riscos sísmicos”, declarou Rachel Grant, principal autora do artigo.

Independentemente da observação do comportamento animal, os resultados obtidos mostram que a previsão de terremotos poderia ser feita também mediante a detecção da ionização do ar, com o monitoramento do campo elétrico atmosférico. “Já temos detectores instalados no Brasil, no Peru e na Argentina. E pretendemos, em breve, instalar sensores de campo elétrico atmosférico nos lugares propícios a atividades sísmicas importantes. Isso daria uma previsibilidade da ordem de duas semanas ou até mais. Por ocasião do terremoto do Haiti, em janeiro de 2010, a rede SAVNET já tinha detectado flutuações na ionosfera com 12 dias de antecedência, com resultados publicados na revista NHESS – Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences”, afirmou Raulin.

Júri indígena em Roraima absolve réu de tentativa de homicídio (G1)

24/04/2015 09h56 – Atualizado em 24/04/2015 12h18

Emily Costa – Do G1 RR

Júri ocorreu no Malocão da Demarcação, no interior da Raposa Serra do Sol, Nordeste de Roraima (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

Júri ocorreu no Malocão da Demarcação, no interior da Raposa Serra do Sol, Nordeste de Roraima (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

Debaixo das 18 mil palhas de buriti do Malocão da Homologação, no interior da Reserva Indígena Raposa Serra do Sol, em Roraima, o primeiro júri popular indígena do Brasil absolveu um réu acusado de tentativa de homicídio e condenou o outro réu do processo por lesão corporal leve. Os dois, que são irmãos e indígenas, foram acusados de atacar um terceiro índio. O julgamento, que durou mais de 13 horas, ocorreu nesta quinta-feira (23) e teve a presença de cerca de 200 pessoas, conforme estimativa da Polícia Militar. O Ministério Público de Roraima (MPRR) informou que vai recorrer da decisão.

Os réus do processo, Elsio e Valdemir da Silva Lopes foram acusados de tentar matar Antônio Alvino Pereira. Os três, que são da etnia Macuxi, se envolveram em uma briga no município de Uiramutã, na Raposa Serra do Sol, na tarde do dia 23 de janeiro de 2013. Durante a confusão, Elsio e Valdemir cortaram o pescoço e o braço de Antônio, respectivamente. Após a briga, os irmãos alegaram legítima defesa contra Antônio e afirmaram que a vítima estava dominada pela entidade indígena Canaimé. À época, eles foram presos em flagrante e ficaram detidos por 10 dias na Penitenciária Agrícola de Monte Cristo, em Boa Vista.

Réus são irmãos da etnia Macuxi; eles não quiseram conceder entrevistas à imprensa (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

Réus são irmãos da etnia Macuxi; eles não quiseram conceder entrevistas à imprensa (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

Durante o júri, o chamado Conselho de Sentença, formado apenas por índios da própria reserva, considerou a culpa de Elsio e admitiu que ele teve a intenção de matar Antônio. Contudo, o absolveu pela tentativa de homicídio. Valdemir, em contrapartida, foi condenado, mas teve a culpa por lesão corporal grave atenuada para lesão corporal simples. Com isso, ele foi sentenciado a cumprir pena de três meses de pena no regime aberto, podendo ainda recorrer da decisão em liberdade.

Ao todo, dentre réus e vítima, 10 testemunhas foram ouvidas no caso. Todas elas prestaram depoimento ao júri formado por quatro homens e três mulheres das etnias Macuxi, Ingaricó, Patamona e Taurepang. Dentre eles, o filho da vítima, o proprietário do bar onde ocorreu a tentativa de homicídio e o homem que, segundo os réus, teria dito que a vítima estava sob influência do Canaimé.

Ao G1, o juiz responsável pelo caso, Aluizio Ferreira, se limitou a dizer que a “decisão do júri é soberana e tem que ser acatada”. Ele frisou que o júri foi válido, legal e realizado conforme prevê a Constituição Federal e o Código Penal.

Indígenas acompanharam a realização do júri popular indígena na Raposa Serra do Sol, no Nordeste de Roraima (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

Indígenas acompanharam a realização do júri popular indígena na Raposa Serra do Sol, no Nordeste de Roraima (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

“Foi uma forma muito peculiar de tentar resolver um conflito, foi diferenciado e é algo que deve, no meu entender ser reproduzido. Obviamente, isso depende do Poder Judiciário e dos meus pares, mas eu considero que esse júri provoca reflexão”, alegou.

Os réus e a vítima não quiseram conceder entrevistas à imprensa.

Defesa comemorou a sentença

O defensor público estadual José João e a advogada Thais Lutterbak, que defenderam Valdemir e Elsio, respectivamente, consideraram o resultado do júri como ‘positivo’, apesar da condenação de um dos réus.

“Na verdade, a tese da defesa foi vitoriosa, porque nós afirmamos que o Valdemir não cometeu o crime de lesão corporal grave, conforme a acusação alegava. O júri entendeu que houve uma lesão corporal leve, a qual depende de representação por parte da vítima, o que já prescreveu”, afirmou José João.

Segundo o defensor, para que haja punição no caso, a vítima teria que ter feito uma representação contra o agressor. Entretanto, o prazo para fazê-la é de seis meses depois de saber quem é o autor do fato, o que já teria transcorrido, conforme José João.

Questionada sobre a tese de legítima defesa contra a ação do Canaimé, Thaís, advogada do réu absolvido, reiterou que a ação dele foi confessada, mas justificada sob a ameaça da entidade indígena.

Defesa comemorou veredicto; defensor considera que na prática os dois réus foram absolvidos  (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

Defesa comemorou veredicto; defensor considera que na prática os dois réus foram absolvidos (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

“A defesa nunca negou a autoria e a materialidade do fato. Então, o júri entendeu que houve um contexto que justificava o cometimento do delito. É claro que não estamos dizendo que a vítima é um canaimé, mas sim que houve um contexto que fundamentou a atuação dos réus”, alegou.

Durante o júri, Valdemir alegou em depoimento que o crime aconteceu pois ele e seu o irmão estavam se defendendo contra do Canaimé. Por sua vez, Elsio confessou aos jurados que golpeou o pescoço da vítima com uma faca de “cortar laranja”.

MP alega ilegalidade do júri

Desde o início do julgamento, os promotores do MPRR, Diego Oquendo e Carlos Paixão, alegaram que o júri é passível de ser anulado, pois a seleção do corpo de jurados formado unicamente por índios exclui pessoas pertencentes a outras etnias da sociedade, o que vai contra o artigo 436 do Código de Processo Penal.

“Se um morador de uma favela do Rio de Janeiro comete um crime, ele vai ser julgado apenas por membros dessa comunidade? Não. Então, porque isso deveria ocorrer em uma comunidade indígena?”, questionou Paixão durante coletiva de imprensa.

Sobre a decisão final do júri, Paixão e Oquendo afirmaram que a setença é contrária às provas do processo, onde ficou claro que houve a lesão corporal grave por parte do réu absolvido. Eles atribuíram a absolvição dele a não compreensão dos jurados sobre os questionamentos feitos no julgamento.

Durante o tribunal do júri popular, é procedimento que após os debates, o juiz apresente uma séria de perguntas simples aos jurados, chamadas de quesitação, onde ele questiona sobre o crime. A essas perguntas, os jurados devem responder ‘sim’ ou ‘não’.

Às perguntas iniciais sobre Elsio, o júri respondeu que houve a tentativa de homcídio e atribuiu a culpa a ele, mas, apesar disso, decidiu absolvê-lo. Por isso, o promotor Carlos Paixão, considerou a decisão ‘juridicamente legal, mas desconexa’.

“Olha só a incongruência: o fulano sofreu a lesão? Sim. O beltrano produziu a lesão? Sim. Ele quis matar? Sim. Daí vem o quesito ‘você o absolve? Sim'”, argumentou, acrescentando que o Ministério Público recorrerá de sentença dentro do prazo de cinco dias.

No sentido horário: líder indígena Zedoeli Alexandre e o juiz de direito responsável pelo caso, Aluizio Ferreira; eles concederam entrevista coletiva antes do início do júri (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

No sentido horário: líder indígena Zedoeli Alexandre e o juiz de direito responsável pelo caso, Aluizio Ferreira; eles concederam entrevista coletiva antes do início do júri (Foto: Emily Costa/ G1 RR)

‘É brutal’, diz líder indígena sobre julgamento
Ao G1, o coordenador regional da região das serras, Zedoeli Alexandre, avaliou o julgamento dos ‘brancos’ como brutal. Apesar disso, de acordo com ele, a ação muda a forma como os indígenas lidarão com os conflitos a partir da realização do júri.

“Chegamos ao nosso objetivo de nos ajudar a resolver os nossos problemas. Entretanto, ficou marcada a forma como os brancos realizam um julgamento. É brutal e muito diferente da nossa forma, mais respeitosa e educativa de julgar”, esclareceu Zedoeli.

Sobre o envolvimento do Canaimé no caso, Zedoeli garantiu que a referência à entidade no processo não deixou os jurados nervosos. “Não temos como afirmar o envolvimento do Canaimé, afinal ele faz parte da cultura indígena tradicional. Não temos como dizer que foi ele, ou não. Então, acredito que tudo foi esclarecido e estamos tranquilos com o término do julgamento”, afirmou.

*   *   *

Em júri indígena de RR, réu alega legítima defesa contra espírito (G1)

23/04/2015 22h56 – Atualizado em 23/04/2015 23h08

Inaê Brandão e Emily CostaDo G1 RR

Maturuca, Raposa Serra do Sol (Foto: RCCaleffi/Coordcom/UFRR)

Comunidade Maturuca, na Raposa Serra do Sol (Foto: RCCaleffi/Coordcom/UFRR)

Valdemir da Silva Lopes, um dos indígenas acusado de tentar matar outro índio em janeiro de 2013, no município de Uiramutã, Nordeste de Roraima, alegou durante seu depoimento no júri popular indígena que ocorre nesta quinta-feira (23) que o crime aconteceu pois ele e seu irmão, Elsio da Silva Lopes, estavam se defendendo contra um espírito malígno denominado ‘Canaimé’. Elsio, que também é réu no caso, confessou aos jurados que golpeou o pescoço da vítima com uma faca de “cortar laranja”.

O júri começou na manhã desta quinta na comunidade Maturuca, na Terra Indígena Raposa Serra do Sol, localizada no município onde ocorreu o crime, e não tem previsão para ser encerrado. Segundo o Tribunal de Justiça de Roraima (TJRR), o julgamento é inédito no Brasil, pois ocorre em área indígena e o júri é composto exclusivamente por índios.

Desde que o caso chegou a público, a defesa afirmou que o crime foi motivado pela crença dos réus de que a vítima, Antônio Alvino Pereira, estava ‘dominada’ pelo espírito da entidade malígna ‘Canaimé’. O júri, que aconteceu de forma tranquila pela manhã, ficou tenso durante o depoimento de Elsio.

Ao ser perguntado por qual motivo desferiu um golpe de faca contra a vítima, Elsio respondeu que o fez “porque foi ameaçado”. O promotor do caso, Diego Oquendo, questionou Elsio sobre a tese do ‘Canaimé’. O réu foi orientado por seu advogado a não responder mais perguntas. Diante disso, a promotoria se recusou a fazer novos questionamentos e o depoimento de Elsio foi encerrado.

Durante a oitiva do segundo réu, Valdemir da Silva Lopes, ele esclareceu que estava com o seu irmão e um terceiro homem, que é testemunha ocular do fato, no bar onde o crime ocorreu. Ele afirmou que a vítima chegou “puxando conversa” e que a mesma mantinha uma “postura agressiva”. No depoimento, Valdemir afirmou que a vítima havia dito ao terceiro homem que “matava crianças”, o que teria gerado desconfiança nos irmãos.

Valdemir relatou ainda durante o depoimento que cerca de um mês antes da tentativa de homícidio, um líder indígena e uma criança haviam sido assassinados pelo ‘Canaimé’, pois, segundo ele, tinham marcas no pescoço e folhas na garganta, algo característico da entidade, conforme a crença dos indígenas.

Diante da informação do homem que Antônio Pereira seria um assassino, os irmãos concluíram que a vítima estava ‘dominada’ pelo espírito maligno e o atacaram com uma faca.

Encerrado o depoimento dos réus, o júri seguiu com os debates do Ministério Público de Roraima e da defesa dos acusados da tentativa de homícidio.

Canaimé
Segundo a antropóloga Leda Leitão Martins, o ‘Canaimé’ é um ser maligno. “É uma entidade muito poderosa que tem corpo físico e pode viajar longas distâncias. Uma pessoa pode ser ou pode virar o Canaimé. Ninguém conhece um Canaimé. Ou você é ele ou você é vítima dele”, explicou.

Julgamento
A tentativa de homicídio que está em júri popular aconteceu no 23 de janeiro de 2013, em um bar no município de Uiramutã.

Trinta indígenas, sendo 5 suplentes, das etnias Macuxi, Ingaricó, Patamona e Taurepang foram escolhidos para participar do júri e na manhã desta quinta, 7 foram sorteados para compor o quadro de jurados.

Segundo o juíz responsável pelo caso, Aluizio Ferreira, os líderes indígenas da região se reuniram em assembleia e optaram juntos pelo júri popular. “Em dezembro do ano passado, pelo menos 270 deles foram favoráveis à audiência. Então, a realização do júri é resultado de uma escolha coletiva, não é etnocentrismo ou imposição”.

Onças recebem colar com transmissor e são monitoradas pelo Instituto Mamirauá (MCTI/Instituto Mamirauá)

Em 2015, três onças-pintadas foram capturadas pelos pesquisadores na Reserva Mamirauá, no Amazonas, e têm sua movimentação acompanhada. Os exemplares são apelidados de Pérola, Baden e Caçulão

Iniciado o ciclo da cheia, com o aumento do nível da água, na Reserva Mamirauá, no Amazonas, os pesquisadores do Instituto Mamirauá vão a campo para a campanha de captura de onças-pintadas, realizada nos meses de dezembro, janeiro e março. Em 2015, três animais foram capturados e são agora monitorados pelos pesquisadores. Os três exemplares, apelidados de Pérola, Baden e Caçulão, são adultos: uma fêmea preta (melânica) e dois machos.

A recaptura de Baden, que já havia sido capturado e monitorado durante o ano de 2014, permite aos pesquisadores acompanharem seu comportamento por um período mais longo, gerando mais informações para o estudo. De acordo com o pesquisador Emiliano Esterci Ramalho, líder do Grupo de Pesquisa em Ecologia e Conservação de Felinos na Amazônia, desde a primeira captura, em 2008, todos os animais observados possuem bom estado de saúde.

O principal objetivo do estudo é entender a ecologia da onça-pintada nas florestas inundáveis da Amazônia, buscando conhecer como as onças se movimentam e como a alteração do ambiente pelo fluxo das águas (enchente, cheia, vazante e seca) influencia seu comportamento. As capturas também permitem aos pesquisadores avaliar o estado de saúde dos espécimes e detectar quais patógenos e parasitas estão presentes na população de onças da região.

O pesquisador citou um fato inusitado observado pelo monitoramento desse ano. “O Caçulão, que é um macho bem ousado, andou e deitou em baixo das casas de uma das comunidades da Reserva Mamirauá, comeu cachorros, galinhas e um pato no período em que estávamos na região. E vimos uma interação bem interessante dele com outro macho. Marcamos o ponto em que o outro estava e, no dia seguinte, o Caçulão esteve no mesmo local”, contou.

Leia mais.

(MCTI, via Instituto Mamirauá)

http://www.mcti.gov.br/noticias/-/asset_publisher/IqV53KMvD5rY/content/oncas-recebem-colar-com-transmissor-e-sao-monitoradas-pelo-instituto-mamiraua

Tornado de Xanxerê (SC), 20 de abril de 2015

Tornado deixa dois mortos e ao menos 100 feridos no oeste de SC (Estadão)

Aline Torres – ESPECIAL PARA O ESTADO20 Abril 2015 | 20h 40

Forte tempestade atingiu sete bairros da cidade de Xanxerê; 12 feridos estão em estado grave e cerca de 500 famílias, desabrigadas

Atualizada às 11h30 do dia 21.

FLORIANÓPOLIS – Duas pessoas morreram e pelo menos cem ficaram feridas – 12 delas em estado grave – após a passagem de um tornado nesta segunda-feira, 20, na cidade de Xanxerê, no oeste de Santa Catarina. O vento atingiu outras 12 cidades com menor impacto.

O fenômeno aconteceu por volta das 15h30 de segunda-feira e afetou principalmente a parte central de Xanxerê, que tem cerca de 47 mil habitantes, segundo o IBGE. Os mortos foram identificados como o casal Deomir e Alcimar Sutir, que morreu quando tentava socorrer os filhos.

Segundo o engenheiro agrônomo Ronaldo Coutinho, do Climaterra, os ventos do tornado chegaram a 200 km/h. O temporal destelhou e partiu residências, arrancou árvores e fios elétricos e deixou as ruas repletas de destroços.

Tornado atingiu a cidade de Xanxerê na tarde desta segunda-feira, 20

Tornado atingiu a cidade de Xanxerê na tarde desta segunda-feira, 20

De uma das igrejas mais antigas não sobrou nem o telhado. O ginásio de esportes Ivo Sguissardi, o principal da cidade, desmoronou. Crianças faziam atividade física no local quando a ventania chegou, mas elas conseguiram fugir. Dezenas de veículos ficaram destruídos.

Segundo informações da Defesa Civil, sete bairros estavam no caminho do tornado, que deixou um rastro de destruição. Os ventos derrubaram cinco torres de transmissão que saem da subestação de Xanxerê, deixando 14 cidades próximas sem luz.

A cidade ainda tem problemas sérios com falta de energia, já que algumas torres da Eletrosul foram derrubadas. Também há problemas de comunicação, com a rede de telefonia operando parcialmente

Socorro. O Estado encaminhou para a região equipes do Corpo de Bombeiros e da Defesa Civil. A prefeitura organizou abrigos para mais de 500 famílias. Os feridos estão sendo atendidos no Hospital São Paulo e parte foi transferida para cidades vizinhas. Há uma força-tarefa para levantar lonas, agasalhos e geradores de energia para as unidades de saúde.

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Governo envia exército à cidade de SC atingida por tornado e deve liberar saque do FGTS (Estadão)

Ayr Aliski – 21 de abril de 2015

Um grupo de cem homens e vários caminhões do Exército estão sendo enviados nesta terça para Xanxerê, no oeste de Santa Catarina. A cidade foi atingida por um tornado na tarde dessa segunda, 20. O grupo de militares está sendo deslocado após solicitação do Ministério da Integração Nacional e vai ajudar na remoção dos escombros e limpeza da cidade. Novas ações de apoio à cidade poderão ser anunciadas no decorrer desta terça-feira, 21, pelo governo federal.

A Defesa Civil catarinense está trabalhando para dimensionar os estragos causados pelo tornado. Amanhã, serão tomadas decisões em conjunto com a Defesa Civil federal. Os ministros da Integração, Gilberto Occhi; do Trabalho, Manoel Dias; e da Secretaria-Geral da Presidência, Miguel Rossetto, já conversaram sobre o assunto e estão acompanhando a situação enfrentada pela cidade catarinense.Para a liberação de parcela do FGTS para ações emergenciais como essa, em primeiro lugar a prefeitura ou o governo estadual precisa decretar situação de emergência ou estado de calamidade pública. Em seguida, o Ministério da Integração Nacional publica ato com o reconhecimento da decretação da emergência ou calamidade pública.

O ministro Manoel Dias – que é catarinense – já fez contato com o prefeito de Xanxerê, Ademir José Gasparino (PSD), para obter informações sobre a situação na cidade e prestar solidariedade. Eles conversaram, também, sobre os trâmites necessários para a liberação desses recursos do FGTS, de forma que o repasse ocorra de forma rápida. Segundo o ministro, os procedimentos junto ao fundo terão início nesta quarta-feira para que as famílias tenham condições de dispor de algum recurso para reconstruírem o que foi destruído o mais rápido possível. “O FGTS já foi liberado em outros casos. Vamos tomar todas as providências para que os recursos cheguem até as pessoas que tiveram suas casas destruídas”, argumentou Dias.

Pelo menos sete bairros de Xanxerê foram atingidos pela tempestade de ontem. A informações mais recentes relatam duas mortes e pelo menos cem feridos, além de 500 famílias desabrigadas. Uma igreja foi destruída e o ginásio de esportes da cidade desmoronou. Torres de transmissão de energia foram derrubadas e casas foram arrastadas.

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21/04/2015 18h47 – Atualizado em 21/04/2015 19h34

Ministro da Integração visita cidade atingida por tornado e confirma ajuda (G1)

‘Papel é fazer emergencialmente ações necessárias’, diz Gilberto Occhi.
Tornado deixou 2 mortos, 120 feridos e mil desabrigados em Xanxerê.

Do G1 SC

Dia 21: imagem área mostra residências destelhadas em Xanxerê (Foto: Corpo de Bombeiros/Divulgação)

Dia 21: imagem área mostra residências destelhadas em Xanxerê (Foto: Corpo de Bombeiros/Divulgação)

O ministro da Integração Nacional, Gilberto Magalhães Occhi, chegou a Xanxerê, no Oeste catarinense, um dia após um tornado ter deixado um rastro de destruição na cidade. Nesta terça-feira (21), ele garantiu apoio do governo federal para reconstrução do município.

Occhi também anunciou o envio de mais 100 militares do Exército, que irão auxiliar na reconstrução da cidade. Ao todo, serão 200 soldados. Os primeiros 100 chegaram no município, por volta das 17h30 desta terça-feira, e o outro grupo deve chegar na manhã desta quarta (22).

Na cidade, dois homens morreram e cerca de 120 pessoas foram levadas para hospitais, segundo a Polícia Militar, na segunda-feira (20). Ao menos 2,6 mil residências foram atingidas e cerca de mil pessoas ficaram desabrigadas. 

Como se forma um tornado corrigido (Foto: G1)

Ochhi chegou à cidade por volta das 18h, onde anunciou a liberação de recursos emergenciais para contratação de empresas que ajudarão na reconstrução dos estragos.”O papel agora é de apoiar o prefeito e fazer emergencialmente as ações necessárias”, declarou o ministro. Segundo Occhi, dois técnicos do Ministério da Integração Nacional estão em Xanxerê, onde permanecerão para auxiliar nas medidas de apoio.”Vamos construir caminhos alternativos para o restabelecimento da cidade”, destacou o ministro. Occhi afirmou que há três fases importantes para a reconstrução da cidade: a primeira é a de ajuda humanitária com o Exército, para suprir as necessidades básicas dos atingidos. Depois, será necessário restabelecer a cidade e, por último, fazer a reconstrução.

No início da noite desta terça, o ministro se reuniu com o prefeito da cidade, para discutir ações de apoio à cidade. Depois, fará uma visita aos locais atingidos. Ele permanecerá na região Oeste do estado, para fazer um sobrevoo sobre Xanxerê na manhã desta quarta-feira (21).

A cidade de Xanxerê se mobilizou para atender às vitimas do tornado. Muitos moradores estão distribuindo alimentos e auxiliando parentes e amigos a retirar objetos de escombros. Padarias da cidade também estão distribuindo comida.

Liberação do FGTS

O ministro do Trabalho, Manoel Dias, anunciou nesta terça-feira (21) a liberação do Fundo de Garantia por Tempo de Serviço (FGTS) para as famílias atingidas por um tornado em Xanxerê. A liberação iniciará nesta quarta (22).

Dias afirmou ao portal do Palácio do Planalto que a iniciativa do governo federal é para que as famílias atingidas tenham condições de dispor de algum recurso para reconstruírem o que foi destruído pelo tornado.

Tornado

Conforme o Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (Inmet), os ventos que formaram o tornado podem ter variado de 100 km/h até 330 km/h por volta das 15h, horário do fenômeno (veja imagens aéreas no vídeo acima).A escala de classificação de tornados começa em 65 km/h e chega a mais de 500 km/h. O F0 é o mais fraco e o F5 é considerado o mais forte. “Pelas características dos estragos e pela intensidade dos ventos, este deve ficar entre F2 e F3”, disse Mamedes Luiz Melo, meteorologista do Inmet Brasília.

Feridos

No Hospital Regional do Oeste, em Chapecó, duas crianças, de 5 e 7 anos, e um jovem de 18, estavam em Unidade de Terapia Intensiva (UTI).

Dia 21: ministro Gilberto Occhi chegou à cidade (Foto: Laion Espíndula/G1)

Dia 21: ministro Gilberto Occhi chegou à cidade (Foto: Laion Espíndula/G1)

A Sociedade Hospitalar Beneficente São Cristóvão, em Faxinal dos Guedes, informou que seis feridos foram encaminhados à unidade. Todos receberam alta, sendo cinco na segunda e uma mulher, com lesões mais graves, na manhã desta terça. Eles tinham escoriações.O Hospital Nossa Aparecida, em Abelardo Luz, afirmou que não recebeu feridos pelo tornado. O G1 não conseguiu contato com o Hospital Frei Bruno, em Xaxim.

Ponte Serrada

Além de Xanxerê, o Inmet confirmou que outro tornado atingiu Ponte Serrada, que fica a 45 km de Xanxerê, na tarde de segunda (20).Três pessoas ficaram feridas e pelo menos 200 residências foram atingidas na cidade. De acordo com o Corpo de Bombeiros Militar, algumas casas foram completamente destruídas. O município também ficou sem abastecimento de água e energia elétrica.

Dia 21: soldados do Exército chegaram a Xanxerê na tarde desta terça-feira (Foto: SDR/Divulgação)

Dia 21: soldados do Exército chegaram a Xanxerê na tarde desta terça-feira (Foto: SDR/Divulgação)

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22/04/2015 17h38 – Atualizado em 22/04/2015 17h44

Abastecimento de água em Xanxerê deve normalizar em 72h, diz Casan (G1)

Situação já é normal em bairros da parte baixa da cidade do Oeste de SC.

Tornado de segunda-feira (20) danificou cerca de 650 ligações das casas.

Joana Caldas – Do G1 SC

Dia 21: Xanxerê um dia após tornado (Foto: BOA/Divulgação)

Dia 21: Xanxerê um dia após tornado (Foto: BOA/Divulgação)

O abastecimento de água em Xanxerê, no Oeste catarinense, deve normalizar em toda a cidade em até três dias. A Companhia de Águas e Saneamento (Casan) informou na tarde desta quarta-feira (22), que algumas áreas da parte baixa da cidade já estão com o recebimento normalizado.Com o tornado, aproximadamente 650 ligações de água nas casas foram danificadas, segundo o chefe da Casan em Xanxerê, Paulo Baldi. Não houve rompimento de adutoras, mas o abastecimento foi comprometido desde a última segunda-feira (20), quando um tornado causou prejuízos ao município.

Com ventos de até 330 km/h – segundo estimado pelo Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (Inmet) -, o fenômeno deixou 2 mortos, 120 feridos e cerca de mil desabrigados. A cidade de Xanxerê decretou estado de calamidade pública na terça-feira (22) por causa dos estragos. Com isso, deve receber ajuda do estado e do governo federal.

O rompimento dessas ligações causou vazamentos e prejudicou o abastecimento. É preciso fazer a reinstalação.Em torno de 25 técnicos da Casan de Xanxerê e de municípios vizinhos trabalham nos consertos. Na parte baixa da cidade, moradores já recebem água.Porém, o abastecimento na parte alta, a mais atingida pelo tornado, deve demorar até 72 horas para ser regularizado.

Apoio do governo federal

O ministro da Integração Nacional, Gilberto Occhi, chegou a Xanxerê no final da tarde desta terça e garantiu apoio do governo federal para reconstrução do município.Occhi também anunciou o envio de mais 100 militares do Exército. Ao todo, 200 devem auxiliar nas ações de reconstrução. Os primeiros 100 desembarcaram no final da tarde desta terça.O ministro do Trabalho, Manoel Dias, anunciou nesta terça-feira (21) a liberação do Fundo de Garantia por Tempo de Serviço (FGTS) para as famílias atingidas pelo tornado.

Como se forma um tornado corrigido (Foto: G1)
Como se forma um tornado corrigido (Foto: G1)

Feridos

Dois homens morreram e cerca de 120 pessoas foram levadas para hospitais, segundo a Polícia Militar. Ao menos 2,6 mil residências foram atingidas, segundo último balanço da PM e cerca de mil pessoas ficaram desabrigadas.  Outro tornado também atingiu a cidade de Ponte Serrada, a 45 km de Xanxerê.Parte dos pacientes que ficaram feridos durante o tornado, recebeu alta na terça (21). Pelo menos 12 pessoas feridas durante seguem internadas em hospitais de Xanxerê e Chapecó nesta quarta (22).

Tornado

A passagem do fenômeno deixou dois mortos, 120 feridos e um rastro de destruição na cidade. Os ventos que formaram o tornado podem ter chegado a 330 km/h por volta das 15h, horário do fenômeno, conforme o Inmet.A escala de classificação de tornados começa em 65 km/h e chega a mais de 500 km/h. O F0 é o mais fraco e o F5 é considerado o mais forte. “Pelas características dos estragos e pela intensidade dos ventos, este deve ficar entre F2 e F3”, disse Mamedes Luiz Melo, meteorologista do Inmet Brasília.

University offering free online course to demolish climate denial (The Guardian)

The University of Queensland’s course examines the science of climate science denial

David Attenborough signs his new book 'Life in the Air' at the Natural Hisory Museum in London.  Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in the University of Queensland MOOC.

David Attenborough signs his new book ‘Life in the Air’ at the Natural Hisory Museum in London. Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in Denial101x. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Sarah Lee

Starting 28 April, 2015, the University of Queensland is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at “Making Sense of Climate Science Denial”.

 Denial101x summary.

The course coordinator is John Cook, University of Queensland Global Change Institute climate communication fellow, and founder of the climate science myth debunking website Skeptical ScienceCook’s research has primarily focused on the psychology of climate science denial. As he explains,

97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming; however, less than half of Australians are aware of humanity’s role in climate change, while half of the US Senate has voted that humans aren’t causing global warming. This free course explains why there is such a huge gap between the scientific community and the public. Our course looks at what’s driving climate science denial and the most common myths about climate change. 

The course includes climate science and myth debunking lectures by the international team of volunteer scientific contributors to Skeptical Science, including myself, and interviews with many of the world’s leading climate science and psychology experts. Making Sense of Climate Science Denial is a seven-week program featuring interviews with 75 scientific experts, including Sir David AttenboroughKatharine HayhoeRichard AlleyMichael Mann, and Naomi Oreskes.

The course incorporates lessons in both climate science and psychology to explain the most common climate myths and to detail how to respond to them. Research has shown that myth debunking is most effective when people understand why the myth originated in the first place. For example, cherry picking (focusing on a small bit of convenient data and ignoring the rest) is one of the most common fallacies behind climate science myths.

The lectures in the University of Queensland MOOC not only explain the science, but also the fallacies underpinning each myth. This is a unique and important feature to this course, because understanding their origins effectively acts to inoculate people against myths.

Thousands of students from more than 130 countries have already enrolled in Making Sense of Climate Science Denial. The goal is for the students to come out of the course with a stronger understanding of climate science, myth debunking, and the psychology of science denial that’s become so pervasive and dangerous in today’s world.

Out of Place: Space/Time and Quantum (In)security (The Disorder of Things)

APRIL 21, 2015 – DRLJSHEPHERD

A demon lives behind my left eye. As a migraine sufferer, I have developed a very personal relationship with my pain and its perceived causes. On a bad day, with a crippling sensitivity to light, nausea, and the feeling that the blood flowing to my brain has slowed to a crawl and is the poisoned consistency of pancake batter, I feel the presence of this demon keenly.

On the first day of the Q2 Symposium, however, which I was delighted to attend recently, the demon was in a tricksy mood, rather than out for blood: this was a vestibular migraine. The symptoms of this particular neurological condition are dizziness, loss of balance, and sensitivity to motion. Basically, when the demon manifests in this way, I feel constantly as though I am falling: falling over, falling out of place. The Q Symposium, hosted by James Der Derian and the marvellous team at the University of Sydney’s Centre for International Security Studies,  was intended, over the course of two days and a series of presentations, interventions, and media engagements,  to unsettle, to make participants think differently about space/time and security, thinking through quantum rather than classical theory, but I do not think that this is what the organisers had in mind.

photo of cabins and corridors at Q Station, SydneyAt the Q Station, located in Sydney where the Q Symposium was held, my pain and my present aligned: I felt out of place, I felt I was falling out of place. I did not expect to like the Q Station. It is the former quarantine station used by the colonial administration to isolate immigrants they suspected of carrying infectious diseases. Its location, on the North Head of Sydney and now within the Sydney Harbour National Park, was chosen for strategic reasons – it is secluded, easy to manage, a passageway point on the journey through to the inner harbour – but it has a much longer historical relationship with healing and disease. The North Head is a site of Aboriginal cultural significance; the space was used by the spiritual leaders (koradgee) of the Guringai peoples for healing and burial ceremonies.

So I did not expect to like it, as such an overt symbol of the colonisation of Aboriginal lands, but it disarmed me. It is a place of great natural beauty, and it has been revived with respect, I felt, for the rich spiritual heritage of the space that extended long prior to the establishment of the Quarantine Station in 1835. When we Q2 Symposium participants were welcomed to country by and invited to participate in a smoking ceremony to protect us as we passed through the space, we were reminded of this history and thus reminded – gently, respectfully (perhaps more respectfully than we deserved) – that this is not ‘our’ place. We were out of place.

We were all out of place at the Q2 Symposium. That is the point. Positioning us thus was deliberate; we were to see whether voluntary quarantine would produce new interactions and new insights, guided by the Q Vision, to see how quantum theory ‘responds to global events like natural and unnatural disasters, regime change and diplomatic negotiations that phase-shift with media interventions from states to sub-states, local to global, public to private, organised to chaotic, virtual to real and back again, often in a single news cycle’. It was two days of rich intellectual exploration and conversation, and – as is the case when these experiments work – beautiful connections began to develop between those conversations and the people conversing, conversations about peace, security, and innovation, big conversations about space, and time.

I felt out of place. Mine is not the language of quantum theory. I learned so much from listening to my fellow participants, but I was insecure; as the migraine took hold on the first day, I was not only physically but intellectually feeling as though I was continually falling out of the moment, struggling to maintain the connections between what I was hearing and what I thought I knew.

Quantum theory departs from classical theory in the proposition of entanglement and the uncertainty principle:

This principle states the impossibility of simultaneously specifying the precise position and momentum of any particle. In other words, physicists cannot measure the position of a particle, for example, without causing a disturbance in the velocity of that particle. Knowledge about position and velocity are said to be complementary, that is, they cannot be precise at the same time.

I do not know anything about quantum theory – I found it hard to follow even the beginner’s guides provided by the eloquent speakers at the Symposium – but I know a lot about uncertainty. I also feel that I know something about entanglement, perhaps not as it is conceived of within quantum physics, but perhaps that is the point of events such as the Q Symposium: to encourage us to allow the unfamiliar to flow through and around us until the stream snags, to produce an idea or at least a moment of alternative cognition.

My moment of alternative cognition was caused by foetal microchimerism, a connection that flashed for me while I was listening to a physicist talk about entanglement. Scientists have shown that during gestation, foetal cells migrate into the body of the mother and can be found in the brain, spleen, liver, and elsewhere decades later. There are (possibly) parts of my son in my brain, literally as well as simply metaphorically (as the latter was already clear). I am entangled with him in ways that I cannot comprehend. Listening to the speakers discuss entanglement, all I could think was, This is what entanglement means to me, it is in my body.

Perhaps I am not proposing entanglement as Schrödinger does, as ‘the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought’. Perhaps I am just using the concept of entanglement to denote the inextricable, inexplicable, relationality that I have with my son, my family, my community, humanity. It is this entanglement that undoes me, to use Judith Butler’s most eloquent phrase, in the face of grief, violence, and injustice. Perhaps this is the value of the quantum: to make connections that are not possible within the confines of classical thought.

I am not a scientist. I am a messy body out of place, my ‘self’ apparently composed of bodies out of place. My world is not reducible. My uncertainty is vast. All of these things make me insecure, challenge how I move through professional time and space as I navigate the academy. But when I return home from my time in quarantine and joyfully reconnect with my family, I am grounded by how I perceive my entanglement. It is love, not science, that makes me a better scholar.

photo of sign that says 'laboratory and mortuary' from Q station, sydney.

I was inspired by what I heard, witnessed, discussed at the Q2 Symposium. I was – and remain – inspired by the vision of the organisers, the refusal to be bound by classical logics in any field that turns into a drive, a desire to push our exploration of security, peace, and war in new directions. We need new directions; our classical ideas have failed us, and failed humanity, a point made by Colin Wight during his remarks on the final panel at the Symposium. Too often we continue to act as though the world is our laboratory; we have ‘all these theories yet the bodies keep piling up…‘.

But if this is the case, I must ask: do we need a quantum turn to get us to a space within which we can admit entanglement, admit uncertainty, admit that we are out of place? We are never (only) our ‘selves’: we are always both wave and particle and all that is in between and it is our being entangled that renders us human. We know this from philosophy, from art and the humanities. Can we not learn this from art? Must we turn to science (again)? I felt diminished by the asking of these questions, insecure, but I did not feel that these questions were out of place.

Extending climate predictability beyond El Niño (Science Daily)

Date: April 21, 2015

Source: University of Hawaii – SOEST

Summary: Tropical Pacific climate variations and their global weather impacts may be predicted much further in advance than previously thought, according to research by an international team of climate scientists. The source of this predictability lies in the tight interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere and among the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Such long-term tropical climate forecasts are useful to the public and policy makers, researchers say.


This image shows inter-basin coupling as a cause of multi-year tropical Pacific climate predictability: Impact of Atlantic warming on global atmospheric Walker Circulation (arrows). Rising air over the Atlantic subsides over the equatorial Pacific, causing central Pacific sea surface cooling, which in turn reinforces the large-scale wind anomalies. Credit: Yoshimitsu Chikamoto

Tropical Pacific climate variations and their global weather impacts may be predicted much further in advance than previously thought, according to research by an international team of climate scientists from the USA, Australia, and Japan. The source of this predictability lies in the tight interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere and among the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Such long-term tropical climate forecasts are useful to the public and policy makers.

At present computer simulations can predict the occurrence of an El Niño event at best three seasons in advance. Climate modeling centers worldwide generate and disseminate these forecasts on an operational basis. Scientists have assumed that the skill and reliability of such tropical climate forecasts drop rapidly for lead times longer than one year.

The new findings of predictable climate variations up to three years in advance are based on a series of hindcast computer modeling experiments, which included observed ocean temperature and salinity data. The results are presented in the April 21, 2015, online issue of Nature Communications.

“We found that, even three to four years after starting the prediction, the model was still tracking the observations well,” says Yoshimitsu Chikamoto at the University of Hawaii at Manoa International Pacific Research Center and lead author of the study. “This implies that central Pacific climate conditions can be predicted over several years ahead.”

“The mechanism is simple,” states co-author Shang-Ping Xie from the University of California San Diego. “Warmer water in the Atlantic heats up the atmosphere. Rising air and increased precipitation drive a large atmospheric circulation cell, which then sinks over the Central Pacific. The relatively dry air feeds surface winds back into the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. These winds cool the Central Pacific leading to conditions, which are similar to a La Niña Modoki event. The central Pacific cooling then strengthens the global atmospheric circulation anomalies.”

“Our results present a paradigm shift,” explains co-author Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor at the University of Hawaii. “Whereas the Pacific was previously considered the main driver of tropical climate variability and the Atlantic and Indian Ocean its slaves, our results document a much more active role for the Atlantic Ocean in determining conditions in the other two ocean basins. The coupling between the oceans is established by a massive reorganization of the atmospheric circulation.”

The impacts of the findings are wide-ranging. “Central Pacific temperature changes have a remote effect on rainfall in California and Australia. Seeing the Atlantic as an important contributor to these rainfall shifts, which happen as far away as Australia, came to us as a great surprise. It highlights the fact that on multi-year timescales we have to view climate variability in a global perspective, rather than through a basin-wide lens,” says Jing-Jia Luo, co-author of the study and climate scientist at the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia.

“Our study fills the gap between the well-established seasonal predictions and internationally ongoing decadal forecasting efforts. We anticipate that the main results will soon be corroborated by other climate computer models,” concludes co-author Masahide Kimoto from the University of Tokyo, Japan.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yoshimitsu Chikamoto, Axel Timmermann, Jing-Jia Luo, Takashi Mochizuki, Masahide Kimoto, Masahiro Watanabe, Masayoshi Ishii, Shang-Ping Xie, Fei-Fei Jin. Skilful multi-year predictions of tropical trans-basin climate variabilityNature Communications, 2015; 6: 6869 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7869

Software tool allows scientists to correct climate ‘misinformation’ from major media outlets (ClimateWire)

ClimateWire, April 13, 2015.

Manon Verchot, E&E reporter
Published: Monday, April 13, 2015
After years of misinformation about climate change and climate science in the media, more than two dozen climate scientists are developing a Web browser plugin to right the wrongs in climate reporting.

The plugin, called Climate Feedback and developed by Hypothes.is, a nonprofit software developer, allows researchers to annotate articles in major media publications and correct errors made by journalists.

“People’s views about climate science depend far too much on their politics and what their favorite politicians are saying,” said Aaron Huertas, science communications officer at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Misinformation hurts our ability to make rational decisions. It’s up to journalists to tell the public what we really know, though it can be difficult to make time to do that, especially when covering breaking news.”

An analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that levels of inaccuracy surrounding climate change vary dramatically depending on the news outlet. In 2013, 72 percent of climate-related coverage on Fox News contained misleading statements, compared to 30 percent on CNN and 8 percent on MSNBC.

Through Climate Feedback, researchers can comment on inaccurate statements and rate the credibility of articles. The group focuses on annotating articles from news outlets it considers influential — like The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times — rather than blogs.

“When you read an article it’s not just about it being wrong or right — it’s much more complicated than that,” said Emmanuel Vincent, a climate scientist at the University of California, Merced’s Center for Climate Communication, who developed the idea behind Climate Feedback. “People still get confused about the basics of climate change.”

‘It’s crucial in a democracy’

According to Vincent, one of the things journalists struggle with most is articulating the effect of climate change on extreme weather events. Though hurricanes or other major storms cannot be directly attributed to climate change, scientists expect warmer ocean temperatures and higher levels of water vapor in the atmosphere to make storms more intense. Factors like sea-level rise are expected to make hurricanes more devastating as higher sea levels allow storm surges to pass over existing infrastructure.

“Trying to connect a weather event with climate change is not the best approach,” Vincent said.

Climate Feedback hopes to clarify issues like these. The group’s first task was annotating an article published inThe Wall Street Journal in September 2014.

In the piece, the newspaper reported that sea-level rise experienced today is the same as sea-level rise experienced 70 years ago. But in the annotated version of the story, Vincent pointed to research from Columbia University that directly contradicted that idea.

“The rate of sea level rise has actually quadrupled since preindustrial times,” wrote Vincent in the margins.

Vincent hopes that tools like Climate Feedback can help journalists learn to better communicate climate research and can make members of the public confident that the information they are receiving is credible.

Researchers who want to contribute to Climate Feedback are required to have published at least one climate-related article that passed a peer review. Many say these tools are particularly important in the Internet era, when masses of information make it difficult for the public to wade through the vast quantities of articles and reports.

“There are big decisions that need to be made about climate change,” Vincent said. “It’s crucial in a democracy for people to know about these issues.”

A região mexicana que acredita ser protegida por ETs (BBC)

15 abril 2015

BBC Mundo

Muitos moradores de Tampico e Ciudad Madero acreditam que a costa em frente à praia Miramar é o melhor local para se avistar ETs

Sentado num sofá de uma cafeteria simples de Ciudad Madero, um homem me convida a meditar para ver óvnis.

A televisão exibe Bob Marley cantando I Shot the Sheriff e, atrás do balcão, uma mulher prepara um frappuccino.

A cidade fica no violento Estado de Tamaulipas, nordeste do México, e muitos acreditam que os extraterrestres passaram décadas a protegendo de furacões.

Isto porque, quando os furacões que ocorrem na região avançam com força até a costa, onde fica a cidade, eles parariam de forma abrupta e misteriosa, mudando de direção, de acordo com os habitantes mais crentes.

Moradores dizem que já viram os alienígenas, outros afirmam que há uma base submarina a cerca de 40 quilômetros da costa e que já viram suas naves, esferas, triângulos e luzes.

Thinkstock

Aliens são um assunto falado abertamente nesta região do México

E todos conversam abertamente sobre o assunto.

O engenheiro civil Fernando Alonso Gallardo, 68 anos, aposentado da petroleira estatal Pemex e empresário, tem o rosto queimado pelo sol da praia local, Miramar, uma faixa de areia de dez quilômetros.

Pelas janelas do restaurante de Gallardo, o El Mexicano, que fica na praia, entra uma brisa do Golfo do México.

Gallardo conta sua história à BBC Mundo, o serviço em espanhol da BBC. A dele, como a de muitos em Ciudad Madero, envolve avistamentos de objetos voadores não identificados.

BBC Mundo

Furacões em 1933 e 1955 destruíram o restaurante da família de Alonso

Em 1933, quando os furacões ainda não tinham nome, um da categoria 5 chegou a Tampico, onde Gallardo nasceu, perto de Ciudad Madero. O furacão destruiu o restaurante de seu pai, mas a família construiu outro.

Em 1955 o furacão Hilda, que inundou três quartos da cidade e deixou 20 mil desabrigados, voltou a atingir a região.

“Acho que nesta época não havia extraterrestres, se houvesse, não teria tantos desastres”, diz Gallardo.

Furacões também ocorreram em 1947, 1951 e 1966. Mas, logo, as tempestades pararam de atingir a região.

Investigadores acreditam que o verdadeiro motivo do desvio dos furacões é a presença de correntes de água fria na área. Mas, nas vizinhas Tampico e Ciudad Madero, ninguém ignora a crença de que algo sobrenatural defenderia a região.

Avistamentos

Entre o século 19 e os anos 1970, quando as pessoas viam objetos luminosos no céu, diziam que eram bruxas.

Em 1967, foi construído um monumento à Virgem de Carmen – padroeira do mar e dos marinheiros – no local por onde passam pescadores quando deixam o rio Pánuco, que divide os Estados de Tamaulipas e Veracruz.

Muitos viam aí a explicação para o desaparecimento de furacões.

Até hoje, é uma tradição que marinheiros façam o sinal da cruz diante da estátua e capitães buzinem suas embarcações, disse Marco Flores, que desde 1995 é cronista oficial do governo da cidade de Tampico.

A teoria marciana chegou pouco depois.

BBC Mundo

Muitos acreditam que são os ETs que protegem a região de furacões

Segundo Flores, ela foi trazida por um homem da Cidade do México que chegou a Tampico por volta dos anos 1970 a trabalho, e garantiu que mais do que proteger a cidade, os extraterrestres que haviam entrado em contato com ele guardavam suas bases submarinas.

Alonso Gallardo concorda. “Não é um esforço para proteger a cidade, é um esforço para proteger a cidade onde eles vivem, porque eles encontraram uma maneira de estar lá”.

Gallardo diz ter visto seu primeiro óvni em 1983: um disco de 60 metros de diâmetro com luzes amareladas. Isso ocorreu no final do calçadão que serve para separar a água verde do Golfo do México da água escura do rio Pánuco.

Ali, dizem os que acreditam, é o melhor lugar para se ver os objetos.

‘Falta de inteligência’

O ponto de encontro dos “crentes” era um café no Walmart, mas a mulher que os atendia não parecia confortável com o tópico da conversa. Assim, os membros da Associação de Investigação Científica Óvni de Tampico se mudaram para o restaurante Bambino de Ciudad Madero.

Ali, cada um espera para narrar suas experiências.

BBC Mundo

José Luis Cárdenas tira fotos do céu, nas quais aparecem luzes estranhas

Na cabeceira da mesa, Eduardo Ortiz Anguiano, 83 anos, fala sobre seu livro publicado no ano passado, De Ovnis, fantasmas e outros eventos extraordinários.

Durante três anos, ele coletou mais de 100 depoimentos e se convenceu: “Duvidar da existência de óvnis é não ter inteligência”.

E muitos concordam. Eva Martínez diz que a presença de extraterrestres lhe dá paz.

José Luis Cárdenas tem várias fotografias nas quais se vê luzes com formas estranhas – luzes que não estão no céu no momento da foto mas que aparecem no visor da câmera, segundo ele.

“Se os seres que nos visitam não nos machucam, então estão nos protegendo, estão fazendo algo por nós. E é assim que temos que ver as coisas”, disse.

A última vez que um furacão que dirigia-se para a área de Tampico se desviou foi em 2013.

Naquele ano, autoridades locais colocaram o busto de um marciano na praia de Miramar (que foi roubado logo depois) e declararam que na última terça-feira de outubro seria celebrado o Dia do Marciano.

“A explicação que não podemos dar cientificamente damos de maneira mágica. As pessoas desta região têm um pensamento mágico”, diz Flores, o cronista de Tampico.

‘Deus gosta de Tampico’

No sofá da cafeteria de Ciudad Madero, Juan Carlos Ramón López Díaz, presidente da associação de pesquisadores de óvnis, pede para que eu feche os olhos e mantenha a mente tranquila.

Ele me convida a ver um objeto luminoso no qual posso entrar, se eu quiser.

Atrás do balcão, ligam o liquidificador. Abro os olhos. Apesar da ajuda de López Díaz, não vi nada.

Pesquisa revela poder da energia liberada pelas mãos (RAC)

Energia liberada pelas mãos consegue curar malefícios, afirma pesquisa da USP

25/11/2011 – 08h58 . Gazeta de Ribeirão

A missionária Marta Brisa transmite as técnicas de Johrei em Ana Paula Politi
(Foto: Lucas Mamede/Da Gazeta de Ribeirão)

Um estudo desenvolvido recentemente pela USP (Universidade de São Paulo), em conjunto com a Unifesp (Universidade Federal de São Paulo), comprova que a energia liberada pelas mãos tem o poder de curar qualquer tipo de mal estar. O trabalho foi elaborado devido às técnicas manuais já conhecidas na sociedade, caso do Johrei, utilizada pela igreja Messiânica do Brasil e ao mesmo tempo semelhante à de religiões como o espiritismo, que pratica o chamado “passe”.

Todo o processo de desenvolvimento dessa pesquisa nasceu em 2000, como tema de mestrado do pesquisador Ricardo Monezi, na Faculdade de Medicina da USP. Ele teve a iniciativa de investigar quais seriam os possíveis efeitos da prática de imposição das mãos. “Este interesse veio de uma vivência própria, onde o Reiki (técnica) já havia me ajudado, na adolescência, a sair de uma crise de depressão”, afirmou Monezi, que hoje é pesquisador da Unifesp.

Segundo o cientista, durante seu mestrado foram investigado os efeitos da imposição em camundongos, nos quais foi possível observar um notável ganho de potencial das células de defesa contra células que ficam os tumores. “Agora, no meu doutorado que está sendo finalizado na Unifesp, estudamos não apenas os efeitos fisiológicos, mas também os psicológicos”, completou.

A constatação no estudo de que a imposição de mãos libera energia capaz de produzir bem-estar foi possível porque a ciência atual ainda não possui uma precisão exata sobre esse efeitos. “A ciência chama estas energias de ‘energias sutis’, e também considera que o espaço onde elas estão inseridas esteja próximo às frequências eletromagnéticas de baixo nível”, explicou.

As sensações proporcionadas por essas práticas analisadas por Monezi foram a redução da percepção de tensão, do stress e de sintomas relacionados a ansiedade e depressão. “O interessante é que este tipo de imposição oferece a sensação de relaxamento e plenitude. E além de garantir mais energia e disposição.”

Neste estudo do mestrado foram utilizados 60 ratos. Já no doutorado foram avaliados 44 idosos com queixas de stress.
O processo de desenvolvimento para realizar este doutorado foi finalizado no primeiro semestre deste ano. Mas a Unifesp está prestes a iniciar novas investigações a respeito dos efeitos do Reiki e práticas semelhantes a partir de abril do ano que vem.