Arquivo mensal: maio 2015

Sabesp faz investimento milionário em questionada técnica para fazer chover (UOL)

Thamires Andrade*

Do UOL, em São Paulo

28/05/201512h09

Até o fim deste ano, a Sabesp terá repassado R$ 12,5 milhões sem ter feito uma licitação

Até o fim deste ano, a Sabesp terá repassado R$ 12,5 milhões sem ter feito uma licitação (Lucas Lacaz Ruiz/Estadão Conteúdo)

Enquanto alega necessidade de “garantir o equilíbrio econômico-financeiro” para justificar a alta na conta de água, a Sabesp (Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo) mantém um negócio de mais de R$ 8 milhões com a ModClima, uma empresa que oferece uma técnica de indução de chuvas artificiais. Especialistas ouvidos pelo UOL dizem, porém, que o método não é eficaz.

De acordo com documentos da Sabesp obtidos via Lei de Acesso à Informação, a companhia já fechou quatro contratos com a empresa. Nos dois mais recentes, assinados no ano passado, a Sabesp já pagou R$ 2,4 milhões de um total de R$ 8,1 milhões previstos para fazer chover nos sistemas Cantareira e Alto Tietê, os mais afetados pela crise da água na região metropolitana de São Paulo.

Nos dois anteriores, com vigência 2007/2008 e 2009/2013, respectivamente, foram repassados R$ 4,3 milhões — já somados os reajustes. Desde 2007, portanto, a ModClima recebeu quase R$ 7 milhões da Sabesp.

Até o fim deste ano, a Sabesp terá repassado R$ 12,5 milhões sem ter feito nenhum tipo de contrato de licitação. A empresa alega que não era necessário abrir esse processo, pois a ModClima possui “patente de tecnologia utilizada”. Ou seja, ela seria a única empresa detentora desse tipo de tecnologia e, consequentemente, a única capaz de prestar o serviço.

Para o professor livre-docente do IAG-USP (Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas da Universidade de São Paulo) Augusto Jose Pereira Filho, a Sabesp contratou a empresa para não ser acusada de não fazer nada diante da crise de abastecimento de água.

“Foi dinheiro jogado fora. Era melhor utilizar essa verba para outros objetivos, como campanhas de conscientização e redução de perda de água, do que usar em técnicas que ainda não têm comprovação científica”, afirma.

A técnica

A tecnologia, utilizada pela ModClima, é chamada de semeadura e é realizada com um avião que lança gotículas de água dentro da nuvem para acelerar sua precipitação.

As gotas ganham volume e, quando estão pesadas o suficiente, a chuva localizada acontece. Segundo a empresa, chove de 5 a 40 milímetros. O tempo de semeadura dura entre 20 e 40 minutos.

“A semeadura consiste em imitar o processo de crescimento dos hidrometeoros [meteoros aquosos] que, quando atingem o tamanho correto dentro da nuvem, provocam a precipitação. Um avião lança dentro da nuvem gotículas de gelo, cristais ou outra partícula – de acordo com o tipo desta nuvem [quente ou fria] – para acelerar o início da chuva, mas para isso é necessário estar no lugar certo e na hora certa”, explica o professor Carlos Augusto Morales Rodriguez, do Departamento de Ciências Atmosféricas do IAG-USP.

A nuvem deve ter uma densidade adequada para que ocorra a precipitação, mas, segundo Rodriguez, a meteorologia tem dificuldades para identificar as nuvens em condições para a efetivação do processo.

“O radar meteorológico usado pela empresa contratada pela Sabesp não é capaz de identificar a nuvem que está em processo de precipitação, mas, sim, as nuvens que já estão chovendo. Portanto a técnica da empresa é ineficaz, já que, quando o avião entra na nuvem, ela já está chovendo”, explica Rodriguez.

Rodriguez afirma ainda que a empresa fez a semeadura no sistema Cantareira como se o local tivesse nuvens do tipo quente. “O Estado de São Paulo é composto por nuvens frias e, para acelerar a precipitação, era necessário uma técnica adequada para esta região, como o uso de iodeto de prata e gelo seco”, explica.

Tanto Rodriguez quanto Pereira Filho fizeram avaliações independentes do trabalho da empresa e concluíram que a técnica não tinha a eficácia desejada.

“Em uma avaliação de 2003/2004 constatamos que a técnica não funcionou, mas mesmo assim a Sabesp contratou a empresa novamente”, diz Filho. “Fui convidado pelo diretor da Sabesp para conversar com os representantes da ModClima e, durante a reunião, os relatos eram descabidos do ponto de vista científico.”

Ele também questiona os resultados da técnica no ano passado. De acordo com o documento da Sabesp obtido via Lei de Acesso à Informação, só no ano passado a técnica induziu precipitação de 25 hm³ (hectômetro cúbico, o equivalente a 25 bilhões de litros) no sistema Cantareira e 6 hm³ no sistema Alto Tietê (equivalente a 6 bilhões de litros).

“Relatos da Sabesp diziam que houve aumento de 30% de chuvas nos sistemas por causa da técnica, mas a porcentagem e os resultados são duvidosos, pois não é fácil medir de que maneira a semeadura contribuiu de fato para aumentar a precipitação local”, argumenta Filho.

Procurada, a empresa ModClima informou que sua comunicação atual está concentrada na Sabesp e que não responderia as perguntas da reportagem.

A Sabesp não indicou nenhum representante para explicar a contratação dos serviços para provocar chuvas artificiais nem respondeu questões complementares enviadas pelo UOL. *Com colaboração de Wellington Ramalhoso

Anúncios

Rejeitado pela Presidência, estudo sobre adaptação será entregue ao Meio Ambiente (Observatório do Clima)

Conclusões serão “subsídio importante” a plano nacional, diz secretário, mas não deverão ser incorporadas diretamente a ele

29/05/2015

CLAUDIO ANGELO (OC)

O maior estudo sobre adaptação à mudança climática já feito no Brasil tem uma perspectiva de final feliz. O Brasil 2040, criado na Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos da Presidência da República e por ela rejeitado, deverá ser entregue ao Ministério do Meio Ambiente nas próximas semanas.

O plano foi concebido na SAE pela equipe do economista Sérgio Margulis, então subsecretário de Desenvolvimento Sustentável da pasta. Após a mudança de ministro, o clima deixou a lista de prioridades estratégicas da pasta. Margulis e seu time foram demitidos em março, como revelou o Observatório do Clima. Havia temor de que o estudo fosse ser descontinuado ou de que seus resultados fossem ser classificados (colocados sob sigilo).

Nesta quinta-feira (28/05), o secretário nacional de Mudanças Climáticas do Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Carlos Klink, afirmou ao OC que o estudo será entregue pela SAE ao GEX (Grupo Executivo sobre Mudança do Clima), coordenado pelo Ministério do Meio Ambiente. “O secretário da SAE nos procurou para dizer que o estudo está prestes a ser concluído e haveria uma devolutiva”, disse Klink. “Vai passar para o GEX.”

Segundo o secretário, a ideia é que todos os ministérios possam ser informados do estudo e que usem seus resultados – por exemplo, para orientar o planejamento. Ainda de acordo com Klink, “há uma convergência muito forte” entre o Brasil 2040 e o Plano Nacional de Adaptação à Mudança Climática, o PNA, coordenado pelo Ministério do Meio Ambiente e também em fase de conclusão. Ambos deverão ser apresentados na próxima reunião do GEX, em junho ou julho.

Trata-se, no entanto, de dois animais diferentes. O Brasil 2040 focou em vulnerabilidades específicas do país e buscou traçar cenários para consumo imediato, por assim dizer, em políticas públicas. Dez grupos de pesquisa espalhados pelo país cruzaram modelos climáticos do IPCC (o painel do clima da ONU) regionalizados pelo Inpe (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais) com informações sobre infraestrutura, recursos hídricos, agricultura, energia e zonas costeiras, por exemplo. E procuraram saber como cada setor poderia ser afetado pela mudança do clima já no médio prazo, em 25 anos.

Entre as conclusões já conhecidas do estudo está que a temperatura no país poderá subir até 6oC na maior parte do Brasil no fim o século; de que grandes hidrelétricas, como Belo Monte e São Luiz do Tapajós, poderão ter reduções de vazão de pelo menos 30% até 2040, o que compromete sua viabilidade econômica; e de que a área cultivável de soja poderá diminuir no país até 39% no mesmo período.

Já o Plano Nacional de Adaptação faz uma mistura entre contexto, ações já existentes e diretrizes muito gerais para a formulação de políticas de adaptação no país. A ministra Izabella Teixeira disse em abril que “é claro” que o plano terá metas numéricas objetivas, o que foi confirmado por Klink. “Será uma mistura das duas coisas”, afirmou.

O Brasil 2040, porém, não deverá ser incorporado diretamente ao plano nacional. E não está claro se suas conclusões serão inseridas no capítulo de adaptação do compromisso do Brasil para o acordo de Paris – que só deverá ser entregue depois de agosto. Para Klink, mesmo assim o estudo será um subsídio importante. “Vários autores do ‘2040’ participam também do PNA, e devem trazer contribuições de um para o outro.”

“Esperamos que o Ministério do Meio Ambiente, de posse dos estudos do Brasil 2040, entregue-os à sociedade, que precisa saber como as mudanças climáticas afetarão o país”, disse Carlos Rittl, secretário-executivo do Observatório do Clima. “Cobraremos a secretaria no final do prazo para que o estudo seja de fato entregue e amplamente divulgado.”

– See more at: http://www.observatoriodoclima.eco.br/rejeitado-pela-presidencia-estudo-sobre-adaptacao-sera-entregue-ao-meio-ambiente#sthash.G4em00BO.4XYoaLXk.dpuf

*   *   *

Presidência demite líderes de estudo sobre clima, a nove meses da COP de Paris (Observatório do Clima)

Demissões na Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos sinalizam diminuição da importância da questão climática dentro do órgão ligado à Presidência da República

13/03/2015

Claudio Angelo (OC)

O ministro da Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos da Presidência da República, Mangabeira Unger, demitiu nesta semana os membros do quadro técnico da Secretaria de Desenvolvimento Sustentável da pasta. O secretário, Sérgio Margulis, de férias, deverá ser substituído nos próximos dias. A diretora de Programa Natalie Unterstell foi exonerada nesta sexta-feira.

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Sérgio Margulis e Natalie Unterstell, que trabalhavam na Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos da Presidência da República (Fotos: SAE/PR)

Margulis e Unterstell coordenavam o maior estudo já feito no país sobre adaptação às mudanças climáticas. Batizado “Brasil 2040”, o trabalho tem o objetivo de embasar políticas públicas de adaptação nos setores de energia, infraestrutura, agricultura e recursos hídricos. Quase uma dezena de grupos de pesquisa do país trabalha nele neste momento. A análise deveria ficar pronta em abril, e trazia más notícias sobre os impactos da mudança do clima na expansão do parque hidrelétrico brasileiro.

A troca no comando da secretaria sinaliza uma queda de importância da mudança climática no governo federal, justamente num momento em que essa agenda sobe na escala de prioridades de lideranças políticas no mundo todo. Em dezembro, um novo acordo global contra emissões deverá ser assinado numa conferência das Nações Unidas em Paris, a COP-21. Líderes de EUA, Europa, Índia e China têm dado declarações e feito acordos bilaterais para ampliar a possibilidade de sucesso em Paris. No Reino Unido, os líderes do governo e da oposição se juntaram para prometer esforços ampliados contra as mudanças do clima. Um grupo de megaempresários pediu em fevereiro que o planeta zere as emissões de CO2 em 2050, e o Banco da Inglaterra alertou na semana passada contra o risco de investir em combustíveis fósseis. Até o papa Francisco deve lançar nos próximos meses uma encíclica sobre a mudança climática.

Ao longo deste ano, todos os países devem submeter à ONU seus planos de enfrentamento das mudanças do clima, que incluem metas de redução de emissões e medidas de adaptação.

O estudo conduzido por Margulis traria subsídios ao Plano Nacional de Adaptação à Mudança do Clima, que está sendo produzido pelo MMA (Ministério do Meio Ambiente) e deve entrar em consulta pública no meio do ano, segundo informou ao Observatório do Clima o secretário nacional de Mudança Climática e Qualidade Ambiental do MMA, Carlos Klink.

Segundo apurou o OC, o novo ministro, que chefiou a SAE quando ela foi criada, no governo Lula, está promovendo um rearranjo das prioridades da pasta. Educação e desenvolvimento regional passam a ser os carros-chefes da secretaria, em linha com o slogan definido por Dilma Rousseff para ser segundo mandato, “Pátria Educadora”. O ex-ministro Marcelo Néri havia priorizado temas ambientais – Margulis era um dos três únicos secretários do ministério.

O economista carioca, de 58 anos, serviu por 22 na sede do Banco Mundial, em Washington. Em 2003, publicou um estudo seminal sobre o desmatamento na Amazônia, apontando a expansão da pecuária como principal causa da devastação. Seus dados ajudaram a orientar políticas públicas implantadas a partir de 2007 de restrição ao crédito para a pecuária e de apreensão de “bois piratas” que tiveram sucesso em reduzir a taxa de devastação na floresta. Em 2010, coordenou um outro estudo sobre a economia da mudança do clima, mostrando pela primeira vez que a economia brasileira cresceria mais num cenário de desenvolvimento mais limpo, com redução de emissões de carbono.

* Nota atualizada às 11h53, de 13/03/2015, para corrigir informação de que o secretário Sérgio Margulis já teria sido exonerado. Até esta sexta-feira, a portaria de exoneração ainda não havia sido publicada.

Presidente de CPI defende que prefeitura de SP aplique multas à Sabesp (Estadão)

Em São Paulo

13/05/201515h19

11.mai.2015 - Carroceria de veículo fica visível na margem da represa Jaguari-Jacareí, no interior de São Paulo, devido ao baixo nível das águas

11.mai.2015 – Carroceria de veículo fica visível na margem da represa Jaguari-Jacareí, no interior de São Paulo, devido ao baixo nível das águas. Pablo Schettini/Futura Press/Futura Press/Estadão Conteúdo

O presidente da Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito (CPI) da Sabesp na Câmara Municipal de São Paulo, vereador Laércio Benko (PHS), afirmou nesta quarta (13) que a comissão defenderá uma posição mais efetiva da prefeitura de São Paulo em relação à aplicação de multas contra a Sabesp. A companhia de saneamento comandada pelo governo paulista cortou o fornecimento sem aviso prévio, enfrenta dificuldades na atividade de recapeamento de ruas após obras realizadas e ainda despeja esgoto em mananciais, segundo ele.

“Temos que fazer com que Sabesp devolva à Prefeitura, através de multas, aquilo que ela não praticou. Temos que propor penalidades ao prefeito, e também cobrar dele que a prefeitura realize a regularização dos nossos mananciais onde há ocupação indevida”, afirmou Benko, após o encerramento da sessão de hoje da CPI da Sabesp.

O relatório que está sendo elaborado pelo vereador Nelo Rodolfo (PMDB) também cita outra medida importante que deve ser levada à avaliação dos vereadores que compõem a CPI. Ele defende a criação de uma agência reguladora municipal, nos mesmos moldes da Agência Reguladora de Saneamento e Energia do Estado de São Paulo (Arsesp), esta estadual. “Mas ainda quero pensar mais sobre essa questão, para não estarmos apenas criando mais uma autarquia”, disse.

Benko reforçou, após a sessão da CPI, a contrariedade em relação ao fato de a Sabesp ser uma empresa listada em Bolsa. Durante a sessão, que contou com a presença do presidente da Sabesp, Jerson Kelman, o vereador criticou a distribuição de dividendos em um momento no qual a companhia precisa fazer investimentos para garantir o abastecimento de água.

Kelman rebateu a afirmação alegando que a Sabesp, por ser uma empresa aberta, deve respeitar a legislação e distribuir o equivalente a 25% do lucro líquido anual, o que foi proposto para 2015. Benko classificou com um “tapa na cara do cidadão paulistano” a distribuição de dividendos em um momento como o atual.

O vereador chegou a propor que a Sabesp fizesse provisões para recursos a serem destinados a obras, mas a possibilidade foi descartada pelo presidente da companhia de saneamento. “A provisão é um detalhe contábil. Para garantirmos investimentos em nosso planejamento plurianual, é preciso que tenhamos lucro para poder investir”, disse Kelman após a sessão.

O relatório do vereador Rodolfo também deve levantar a possibilidade de o contrato entre Sabesp e a prefeitura de São Paulo ser reavaliado. Nesse caso, pondera Benko, a grande dúvida estaria em quem assumiria o trabalho de saneamento feito pela Sabesp. O presidente da CPI afirmou que ainda não há convergência em relação ao pré-relatório elaborado pelo colega do PMDB. As atividades da CPI serão encerradas no próximo dia 29 de maio e o relator tem um prazo de até 15 dias, após essa data, para a conclusão do documento.

Responsabilidade

Questionado sobre a não convocação do governador de São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, à CPI da Sabesp, Benko ressaltou que a comissão convocou aqueles que eram considerados os principais envolvidos no processo: Kelman e a ex-presidente da Sabesp, Dilma Pena. “Acredito que o governador estava muito mal assessorado pela antiga presidência da Sabesp, e que agora chegou uma pessoa que abriu os olhos de todos”, disse Benko, que disputou a eleição a governador de São Paulo em 2014 contra o governador reeleito Alckmin. O governo de São Paulo é controlador da Sabesp e, como tal, indica o maior número de membros do conselho de administração da companhia de saneamento.

“Após o início do trabalho da CPI, em que nós desmascaramos a Dilma Pena, mostramos que ela estava administrando a Sabesp de uma forma péssima e foi trocada a presidência da Sabesp, as coisas começaram a funcionar”, disse. “Mas não estou dizendo que o governador não tenha responsabilidade, nem que ele tenha”, complementou. Benko disse que os vereadores podem entrar com ação popular, medida que pode ser feita por qualquer cidadão, e criticou a ausência do procurador geral do Estado às sessões da CPI.

Em relação à situação de abastecimento da cidade neste momento, o presidente da CPI destacou que não há um rodízio, mas sim a redução da pressão, o que afeta o abastecimento principalmente na região Norte do município, atendida pelo sistema Cantareira. “Precisamos torcer para a chuva. Rodízio eu acredito que não vai haver, mas a falta de água vai se agravar”, previu Benko.

Torneiras secam em São Paulo. Nível baixo do reservatório Atibainha, do sistema Cantareira, é percebido pela marca de água na ponte; desmatamento do Rio Amazonas, a centenas de quilômetros de São Paulo, pode estar contribuindo para a seca. Ao se cortar a floresta, sua capacidade de liberar umidade no ar é reduzida, diminuindo as chuvas no Sudeste Mauricio Lima/The New York Times

Os saberes indígenas, muito além do romantismo (Outras Palavras)

POR  RICARDO CAVALCANTI-SCHIEL

150513-Reciprocidade

Não se trata de opor um fantasioso “espiritualismo” a um materialismo ocidental. Mas de desafiar nosso regime de sociabilidade com outras ideias, disposições e possibilidades

Por Ricardo Cavalcanti-Schiel

Houve um tempo em que falar de índios no Brasil era um exercício romântico. Tão romântico quanto fantasioso.

No começo do século XX, alguns doutos paulistas saíram pelo seu estado batizando os lugares com nomes tupi, do Anhangabaú a Araçatuba, movidos por ímpetos eruditos, não necessariamente por remissões mais escrupulosas à realidade. Quando a região de Guaianases, na cidade de São Paulo, foi batizada com esse nome, havia centenas de anos que os Guainá, que ali teriam sido aldeados à força no século XVI, já não mais existiam para contar qualquer coisa a respeito da sua história. Os índios daqueles eruditos paulistas, cultores do “tupi antigo”, eram algo bastante postiço. Realizando com perversa ironia os ideais antropofágicos dos mesmos tupi, que séculos antes iam à guerra, entre outras coisas, para caçar, para seus futuros filhos, os nomes daqueles que comeriam, acabaram eles agora transformados em não mais que nomes, desta feita como que nomes em conserva, para serem usados nessa curiosa salada toponímica.

Enquanto isso, no oeste paulista, a partir de Bauru, travava-se uma guerra pela expansão da fronteira agrária, empurrada pela ferrovia. Era um legítimo cenário de bang-bang, e as principais vítimas do extermínio, operado por “bugreiros” e outros agentes, eram os Kaingang e os Xavante, genericamente chamados de Coroados, gente da família linguística jê (muito diferente da família tupi, portanto); extermínio que a história oficial paulista fez questão de sepultar sob a tampa de concreto do silêncio, escrevendo, em seu lugar, o relato fantasioso de uma simples saga de imigrantes. Assim, Araçatuba, por exemplo, terra kaingang, hoje capital do boi gordo, no extremo-oeste paulista, pôde, também ela, ganhar seu bucólico nome tupi: bosque de araçás.

Note-se: não estamos nos confins selváticos e geograficamente obscuros de uma imensa Amazônia; uma Amazônia quase que alheia e que nem parece ter fim (e que daí, pela “lei” da oferta e da procura, se presuma como tão… barata). Estamos no hoje pujante e urbanizado oeste paulista, há não mais que cem anos atrás, apenas vinte anos antes de São Paulo embarcar em uma aventura militar contra um incipiente governo nacional antioligárquico.

De romantismo em romantismo, chegamos aos anos 80, em que os índios, eternos candidatos a nobres selvagens, passam a ser agora heróis ecológicos. Esses, pelo menos, ainda estavam vivos. É bem verdade que a relação dos índios com aquilo que chamamos “natureza” é muito diferente da que a nossa sociedade tem, a começar pelo fato de que, como nos ensina a antropologia amazonista hoje, eles não a reconhecem como “natureza” ― como objeto exterior e à parte, feito para ser usado, apropriado e apenas eventualmente “preservado” como coisa patrimonializada ―, mas como “gente”, como uma multiplicidade de sujeitos imprescindíveis de uma relação sem a qual o mundo habitado não é compreensível nem poderia existir. No entanto, transformar os índios em heróis da “nossa” natureza, incorporados como parte daquele objeto à parte, e igualmente alheio a nós, pode não ser mais que uma dessas nossas projeções, tão românticas quanto utilitárias, de ver Peri beijar Ceci… e morrer em seguida. Parará tim bum bum bum.

Se o novo romantismo ecológico ao menos chamou os índios para a agenda enquanto eles ainda estão vivos, sua tônica acanhadamente preservacionista os fez equivaler, mais uma vez, ao passado; a um passado de aparente pureza florística e faunística que precisaria ser sempre revivido ― ou “resgatado”, como gosta de usar a terminologia patrimonializadora em voga ― de forma idealmente imutável. Mais uma vez, os índios parecem entrar na (nossa) dança sob a clave do embalsamamento, mesmo que, agora, sob a agenda de uma patrimonialização talvez tão fetichista quanto a toponímia mítica dos velhos eruditos paulistas.

No entanto, nos últimos tempos, os últimos lastros românticos que ainda pareciam nos avalizar a existência dos índios parecem estar ruindo, o que não nos augura necessariamente algo virtuoso, porque ficamos mal-acostumados a depender dos romantismos para assegurar uma (traiçoeira e manhosa) legitimidade simbólica desses Outros Nacionais (como os chamou a antropóloga Alcida Ramos) e, por consequência, garantir as bases institucionais da sua existência enquanto povos acolhidos e protegidos ― não falemos sequer ainda de “respeitados”, porque o respeito à diferença não é algo que se aprenda por meio de projeções românticas.

Não é preciso lembrar, para as pessoas razoavelmente informadas, o estado de coisas em que andam as políticas de governo… e os horizontes obscuros das políticas de Estado… com relação aos povos indígenas. Também já é quase ocioso lembrar o quanto um e outro (políticas de governo e projetos de política de Estado) têm se estimulado mutuamente, para promover o etnocídio indígena por meio do solapamento dos direitos. Seja para quem for, qualquer solapamento de direitos é sempre um sequestro da cidadania. Daria até para lembrar, parafrasticamente, aquele poema de Brecht: “primeiro levaram os índios…”.

O que alenta e justifica essa marcha implacável nós também já sabemos o que é: a velha ideologia desenvolvimentista repaginada pelo avatar inquestionável do consumo como critério, seja de teórica “inclusão” seja de teórico “bem-estar”. Assim, no coração dessa nova ideologia desenvolvimentista encontra-se uma operação utilitarista singela: trocar a cidadania pelo consumo. E, nela, o único lugar para os índios ― uma vez corroídas, por esse realismo neoclássico rasteiro, as amarras românticas que os sustentavam ― é o de se tornarem, eles também, modestíssimos consumidores, apoiados por programas assistenciais do governo, depois de entregarem seus “meios de produção” a quem realmente interessa, como aqueles que, vencidos, entregaram outrora o que são hoje terras de boi gordo.

Claro que os que já se renderam inteiramente à coisificação utilitarista do consumo (e provavelmente se esqueceram até de ser gente) vão dizer: melhor boi gordo do que índio ― e no estado em que chegamos, isso é exatamente o que muitos pensam, sem que tenham a necessidade de pronunciá-lo. No entanto, a troca utilitarista, na sua racionalidade de meios e no seu afã predatório, quer apenas ganhar hoje, para a aventura de uns quantos, o que o bem comum poderia, de outra forma, ganhar multiplicado amanhã, se sobreviver até lá. E é aí que a equação que move as curvas de utilidade se alarga para variáveis e horizontes impensados pelos mecano-economistas.

No atual estado de coisas, entretanto, parece haver apenas duas alternativas para salvar a (potencialmente subversiva) diversidade existencial dos Outros Nacionais da sanha desenvolvimentista de moê-la e transformá-la em salsicha: ou reciclamos as projeções românticas em algum novo (e duvidoso) feitiço encantatório das nossas narrativas nacionais, ou tiramos os índios do alheamento passadista a que sempre foram condenados e os reconhecemos como uma aposta sincera no futuro; num futuro não apenas deles, como também não apenas nosso, mas num futuro de diálogo, para além do alheamento, no qual eles também são, necessariamente, sujeitos de fala ― não “eles” a pessoa x ou y, ou a “representação” w ou z, mas, ainda mais radicalmente, as suas visões de mundo. A primeira alternativa, a da reciclagem das projeções românticas, sempre foi aquela imediatamente sedutora, e, com ela, chega-se até mesmo a lançar mão de alegados exotéricos. A segunda, por sua vez, é a que reclama uma reflexão antiutilitária, mas estratégica, que talvez seja exatamente aquilo pelo qual muitos de nós, antropólogos, trabalhamos.

Em 1952, num texto escrito para a Unesco, Lévi-Strauss defendia que as sociedades só sobrevivem porque aprendem umas com as outras. Uma sociedade que se isola na certeza das suas verdades fenece diante dos problemas para os quais sua visão de mundo não alcança soluções. As “soluções” de grande alcance, portanto, não são meramente tecnológicas, mas conceituais. São as ideias que dimensionam a técnica e que dão uso às ferramentas, ou, segundo a fórmula famosa do epistemólogo Georges Canguilhem: o microscópio não é a extensão da vista, mas a extensão da inteligência. Sem o conceito de micro-organismo, o que se veria pelas lentes de um microscópio seria apenas um conto de fadas.

Evidentemente que as tecnologias ajudam, mas o que está sempre por detrás delas são as ideias. De pouco adiantaria, para a expansão europeia dos séculos XV e XVI, o astrolábio que os europeus aprenderam dos árabes, se alguns deles não dispusessem do novo e herético conceito de uma Terra redonda. Descobrir a América, nesse sentido, foi a consagração de uma grande heresia, frente a uma doxa tão potente à sua época quanto os mitos econômicos atuais e suas leis inquestionáveis. E as coisas não pararam por aí, evidentemente, porque, como também nos lembrava Lévi-Strauss, isso é a história, e os europeus, casualmente, não se encontravam na situação dos Mayas em torno do ano 1.000, quando, orgulhosos e isolados, viram suas opulentas cidades colapsarem por conta de uma crise ecológica, por eles mesmo provocada, e para a qual nem o refinamento do conhecimento dos seus astrônomos e sacerdotes tinha uma solução a dar.
150507_Palacio Nacional 09b

Ainda assim, um milênio após o fim do período Maya Clássico, o muralista Diego Rivera pintaria em uma das paredes do Palácio Nacional do México a lista do que a tradição ameríndia mexicana havia legado ao mundo: uma lista de cultivos alimentares que, além de cacau, tomate e feijão, é encabeçada, evidentemente, pelo milho, cuja notável diversidade genética dos cultivares meso-americanos a Monsanto está tratando hoje de eliminar, por meio de seu milho transgênico com patente “made in USA”. Não apenas o milho, mas sobretudo a batata, levada dos Andes pelos europeus, produzem muito mais calorias por hectare plantado que o trigo, nascido na Mesopotâmia e levado para a Europa. O cultivo desse tubérculo, rapidamente estimulado e expandido no Velho Continente, foi responsável por eliminar a fome endêmica e medieval da Europa, e constituir a base demográfica sem a qual a Revolução Industrial não teria sido possível e, com ela, a nossa arrogante modernidade.Por trás da domesticação dos tubérculos nos Andes há um enorme conjunto de ideias sobre como a mãe-terra gera seus frutos, como o trabalho comum os recolhe, como eles podem ser acumulados e conservados, e como devem ser distribuídos. À época da Conquista, os indígenas dos Andes eram muitíssimo mais bem nutridos e saudáveis que os europeus. Diante dessa diferença evidente, estes últimos aproveitaram apenas um produto específico, o que, para eles, já foi muito. Há quem acredite que o socialismo e o Estado do bem-estar social teriam sido inventados alguns séculos antes se os europeus, além das batatas, tivessem levado as ideias.

Apostar nos índios, e portanto na diversidade cultural, como nosso futuro comum de não-alheamento, não significa meramente apostar que a erva de algum pajé possa trazer a cura para o câncer. Expor nossas ideias ao contato com outras visões de mundo pode nos curar de coisas muito piores: nossos próprios e mesquinhos limites.

Quando comentávamos antes que o militantismo ecologista, ao trazer intuitivamente os índios à baila, acabou descuidando do que eles poderiam pensar a respeito da “nossa” natureza ― apenas para servirem ao que nós continuamos a pensar dela e da sua “preservação” enquanto objeto ―, sugeríamos também que a recusa, por parte dos índios, à sumária objetificação dessa “natureza” corresponde ao reconhecimento dela, por eles, como sujeito de uma relação. Conceitos como animismo, perspectivismo e multinaturalismo (por oposição a multiculturalismo) vêm sendo testados pelos antropólogos para descrever o sentido da socialidade indígena na Amazônia e a sua maneira de reconhecer os agentes das relações. Esse fenômeno, no entanto ― como tentamos demonstrar em nossas pesquisas nos Andes ―, pode, na realidade, se constituir como um traço ameríndio generalizado, continental. E o que ele desafia não é apenas a nossa forma de relação com uma “natureza” dada, mas sim a forma como nós a conceituamos, para, em seguida, nos sentirmos à vontade para subjugá-la, a partir de uma relação sujeito-objeto em que a extensão do uso e da posse (a simples destruição incluída) se define pelos casuísmos de uma racionalidade instrumental.

Se aquele tipo de perspectiva sobre a socialidade tem uma incidência efetivamente ameríndia, continental, e se a dimensão do seu desafio pode e deve ser posta em larga escala, então quem nos manda o recado político é o movimento indígena equatoriano, que inspirou em boa medida a elaboração da última Constituição do país, referendada em 2008. Nela, pela primeira vez no mundo, a Natureza foi reconhecida como sujeito jurídico de direito, para que em seu nome e da sua integridade, seja defendida como parte interessada em qualquer ação judicial visando garantir sua “existência, manutenção e regeneração de seus ciclos vitais, estrutura, funções e processos evolutivos” (Art. 71). Talvez seja ocioso se prender a emblemas ou ressentimentos étnicos: se essa Natureza corresponde tão somente, ou não, à Pachamama, a mãe-terra dos andinos, tal como explicitamente a nomeia o mesmo artigo 71… Estamos, antes, em um terreno de fecundas heterogeneidades discursivas, no terreno do desafio das ideias. E é aí que se fazem as grandes apostas no futuro, porque é isso que, para o bem ou para o mal, com a lista de Diego Rivera e muitas outras, e também com toda a precariedade das experiências, constituiu o Novo Mundo.

O desafio posto pelo pensamento ameríndio de reconhecer a socialidade como espaço de interação necessária de muitos sujeitos, que faz o mundo girar não por conta de alguma hierarquia natural ou do imperativo de marcas de origem que definem privilégios, mas por conta das diferentes maneiras de vê-lo e de tecer acordos, nos sugere que viver em não-alheamento significa reconhecer que o Outro é, inescapavelmente, parte de qualquer consideração que se faça sobre si mesmo. Como já o enunciava, bela e sinteticamente, o professor Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, “para os ameríndios, o Outro não é apenas pensável, ele é indispensável”. Talvez não tenhamos lição melhor, para começarmos a repensar seriamente o que possamos entender por cidadania, em um contexto flagrado por iniquidades; um contexto que não será reformado se se insistir apenas no polo da objetificação alheadora, no fetiche da mercadoria e, em último termo, na dispensabilidade dos outros.

Não se trata de opor um fantasioso “espiritualismo” indígena a um materialismo ocidental “realista”. Trata-se de desafiar um certo regime de socialidade (o nosso, ocidental e moderno) com outras ideias, disposições e possibilidades. Algumas delas é bem provável que até já tenhamos aprendido inconscientemente, ao longo de nossa história cultural, afinal o território mais largo da cultura, a parte submersa desse iceberg, é, como também dizia Lévi-Strauss, esse inconsciente. Os índios que os portugueses aqui encontraram, com quem conviveram e que permanecem no (apenas aparente) subterrâneo das nossas mestiçagens, não legaram aos brasileiros de hoje simplesmente tapioca, rede de dormir e outras coisas. Legaram-nos também um modo de nos relacionarmos quotidianamente, que, muito diferente dos europeus, não parte do princípio do reconhecimento do lugar social e pertencimento de alguém sempre e necessariamente pelas suas marcas de origem ― algo que tanto prezam nossas elites senhoriais, que se querem mais “europeias”. Se os brasileiros aprenderam a se abrir cordialmente aos outros, digeri-los e abrasileirá-los como parte de um nós possível (ainda que muitas vezes perverso e hierárquico ― mas a hierarquia não é, com certeza, um legado indígena), isso seguramente não foi aprendido dos europeus.

E se se trata ainda de desafiar um certo regime de socialidade com outras ideias, disposições e possibilidades, então, levar a sério o não-alheamento diante da diversidade significa garantir aos muitos da cidadania um lugar ativo, ouvi-los mais detidamente e deixar-se desafiar pela possibilidade da invenção, pela potencial complicação do que parece já estar dado pelas nossas formas institucionais, recusando a simples tentação de domesticá-los às formas prévias, a uns quantos programas assistenciais, quotas e representações de fachada. Afinal de contas, o que é, por exemplo, o ideal político do “Buen Vivir” (ou, em quéchua, “Sumaq Kausay”), alentado pelas novas disposições constitucionais do Equador e da Bolívia, senão uma enorme complicação para a planura desenvolvimentista; uma complicação ainda a reclamar um ou vários Amartya Sen para lhe inventar indicadores por agora imponderáveis? Mas, e o que é também o ideal político do “Buen Vivir” senão um desafio em nome da “imanência da suficiência”, dos índios, contra a voraz e predatória “transcendência da necessidade”, do Ocidente capitalista, de que nos falava Eduardo Viveiros de Castro [1]?

Talvez seja também preciso dizer que encarar seriamente a opção do não-alheamento significa, com bastante probabilidade, molestar alguns lugares comuns tidos hoje como “politicamente corretos”, e que são aqueles tributários do multiculturalismo neoliberal, quais sejam, suas obsessões com fronteiras bem acabadas, identidades amuralhadas e os contratos de patrimonialização. Os verdadeiros diálogos não se realizam sobre a prévia domesticação dos seus termos por gramáticas unilaterais ― ou uma pretensa universalidade habermasiana. Eles não são uma mera exibição de emblemas, para marcar posição dentro de um mercado contratualista ― ou uma economia contratualista da alteridade. Os verdadeiros diálogos são aqueles em que nos “contaminamos” e nos arriscamos com as razões de ser dos outros. Os pós-estruturalistas talvez tenham nisso razão ao usarem o termo “devir”.

A Constituição brasileira de 88 consagrou os direitos coletivos indígenas como base positiva do direito à reprodução cultural. Sequestrar os primeiros é também sequestrar este último. O que perdemos todos com isso é mais do que uma diversidade meramente nominal, a diversidade passiva do multiculturalismo objetificador. Estaremos perdendo possibilidades de cidadania. E estaremos perdendo possibilidades de futuro. Pois é aí, e não num passado romântico ou instrumentalmente ecológico, que os índios deveriam sobretudo ser vistos.

[1] http://www.socioambiental.org/pt-br/blog/blog-do-isa/o-brasil-e-grande-mas-o-mundo-e-pequeno

Chimpanzés caçadores dão pistas sobre os primeiros humanos (El País)

Primatas que usam lanças podem fornecer indícios sobre origem das sociedades humanas

 12 MAY 2015 – 18:14 BRT

Um velho chimpanzé bebe água em um lago, em Fongoli, no Senegal. / FRANS LANTING

Na quente savana senegalesa se encontra o único grupo de chimpanzés que usa lanças para caçar animais com os quais se alimenta. Um ou outro grupo de chimpanzés foi visto portando ferramentas para a captura de pequenos mamíferos, mas esses, na comunidade de Fongoli, caçam regularmente usando ramos afiados. Esse modo de conseguir alimento é um uso cultural consolidado para esse grupo de chimpanzés.

Além dessa inovação tecnológica, em Fongoli ocorre também uma novidade social que os distingue dos demais chimpanzés estudados na África: há mais tolerância, maior paridade dos sexos na caça e os machos mais corpulentos não passam com tanta frequência por cima dos interesses dos demais, valendo-se de sua força. Para os pesquisadores que vêm observando esse comportamento há uma década esses usos poderiam, além disso, oferecer pistas sobre a evolução dos ancestrais humanos.

“São a única população não humana conhecida que caça vertebrados com ferramentas de forma sistemática, por isso constituem uma fonte importante para a hipótese sobre o comportamento dos primeiros hominídeos, com base na analogia”, explicam os pesquisadores do estudo no qual formularam suas conclusões depois de dez anos observando as caçadas de Fongoli. Esse grupo, liderado pela antropóloga Jill Pruetz, considera que esses animais são um bom exemplo do que pode ser a origem dos primeiros primatas eretos sobre duas patas.

Os machos mais fortes dessa comunidade respeitam as fêmeas na caça

Na sociedade Fongoli as fêmeas realizam exatamente a metade das caçadas com lança. Graças à inovação tecnológica que representa a conversão de galhos em pequenas lanças com as quais se ajudam para caçar galagos – pequenos macacos muito comuns nesse entorno –, as fêmeas conseguem certa independência alimentar. Na comunidade de Gombe, que durante muitos anos foi estudada por Jane Goodall, os machos arcam com cerca de 90% do total das presas; em Fongoli, somente 70%. Além disso, em outros grupos de chimpanzés os machos mais fortes roubam uma de cada quatro presas caçadas pelas fêmeas (sem ferramentas): em Fongoli, apenas 5%.

Uma fêmea de chimpanzé apanha e examina um galho que usará para capturar sua presa. / J. PRUETZ

“Em Fongoli, quando uma fêmea ou um macho de baixo escalão captura uma presa, permitem que ele fique com ela e a coma. Em outros lugares, o macho alfa ou outro macho dominante costuma tomar-lhe a presa. Assim, as fêmeas obtêm pouco benefício da caça, se outro chimpanzé lhe tira sua presa”, afirma Pruetz. Ou seja, o respeito dos machos de Fongoli pelas presas obtidas por suas companheiras serviria de incentivo para que elas se decidam a ir à caça com mais frequência do que as de outras comunidades. Durante esses anos de observação, praticamente todos os chimpanzés do grupo – cerca de 30 indivíduos – caçaram com ferramentas,

O clima seco faz com que os macacos mais acessíveis em Fongoli sejam os pequenos galagos, e não os colobos vermelhos – os preferidos dos chimpanzés em outros lugares da África –, que são maiores e difíceis de capturar por outros que não sejam os machos mais rápidos e corpulentos. Quase todos os episódios de caça com lanças observados (três centenas) se deram nos meses úmidos, nos quais outras fontes de alimento são escassas.

A savana senegalesa, com poucas árvores, é um ecossistema que tem uma importante semelhança com o cenário em que evoluíram os ancestrais humanos. Ao contrário de outras comunidades africanas, os chimpanzés de Fongoli passam a maior parte do tempo no chão, e não entre os galhos. A excepcional forma de caça de Fongoli leva os pesquisadores a sugerir em seu estudo que os primeiros hominídeos provavelmente intensificaram o uso de ferramentas tecnológicas para superar as pressões ambientais, e que eram até mesmo “suficientemente sofisticados a ponto de aperfeiçoar ferramentas de caça”.

“Sabemos que o entorno tem um impacto importante no comportamento dos chimpanzés”, afirma o primatólogo Joseph Call, do Instituto Max Planck. “A distribuição das árvores determina o tipo de caça: onde a vegetação é mais frondosa, a caçada é mais cooperativa em relação a outros entornos nos quais é mais fácil seguir a presa, e eles são mais individualistas”, assinala Call.

No entanto, Call põe em dúvida que essas práticas de Fongoli possam ser consideradas caçadas com lança propriamente ditas, já que para ele lembram mais a captura de formigas e cupins usando palitos, algo mais comum entre os primatas. “A definição de caça que os pesquisadores estabelecem em seu estudo não se distingue muito do que fazem colocando um raminho em um orifício para conseguir insetos para comer”, diz Call. Os chimpanzés de Fongoli cutucam com paus os galagos quando eles se escondem em cavidades das árvores para forçá-los a sair e, uma vez fora, lhes arrancam a cabeça com uma mordida. “É algo que fica entre uma coisa e a outra”, argumenta.

Esses antropólogos acreditam que o achado permite pensar que os primeiros hominídeos eretos também usavam lanças

Pruetz responde a esse tipo de crítica dizendo que se trata de uma estratégia para evitar que o macaco os morda ou escape, uma situação muito diferente daquela de colocar um galho em um orifício para capturar bichos. Se for o mesmo, argumentam Pruetz e seus colegas, a pergunta é “por que os chimpanzés de outros grupos não caçam mais”.

Além do caso particular, nem sequer está encerrado o debate sobre se os chimpanzés devem ser considerados modelos do que foram os ancestrais humanos. “Temos de levar em conta que o bonobo não faz nada disso e é tão próximo de nós como o chimpanzé”, defende Call. “Pegamos o chimpanzé por que nos cai bem para assinalar determinadas influências comuns. É preciso ter muito cuidado e não pesquisar a espécie dependendo do que queiramos encontrar”, propõe.

B.C. First Nations group rejects $1-billion offer for LNG venture (Globe and Mail)

The proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project would be built on Lelu Island, near eelgrass beds that nurture young Skeena salmon. (www.lonniewishart.com/Pacific Northwest LNG)

BRENT JANG
VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, May. 13 2015, 1:15 AM EDT

Last updated Wednesday, May. 13 2015, 12:40 PM EDT

Lax Kw’alaams members voting in the final of three meetings have unanimously rejected a $1-billion cash offer from Pacific NorthWest LNG, declining to give aboriginal consent sought by the project while creating uncertainty for plans to export liquefied natural gas from British Columbia’s north coast.

Globe and Mail Update May. 12 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

Video: Can Petronas overcome the opposition to its LNG project?

The lure of the money, which would be spread over 40 years, is being overshadowed by what the native group views as excessive environmental risks. The Lax Kw’alaams fear the Pacific NorthWest LNG project led by Malaysia’s Petronas will harm juvenile salmon habitat in Flora Bank, located next to the proposed export terminal site on Lelu Island.

“The terminal is planned to be located in the traditional territory of the Lax Kw’alaams,” the aboriginal group’s band council said in a statement Wednesday. “Only Lax Kw’alaams have a valid claim to aboriginal title in the relevant area – their consent is required for this project to proceed. There are suggestions governments and the proponent may try to proceed with the project without consent of the Lax Kw’alaams. That would be unfortunate.”

In the first vote in Lax Kw’alaams, 181 eligible voters unanimously stood up to indicate their opposition to the LNG proposal. In the second vote in Prince Rupert, the pattern continued as 257 eligible voters declined to provide aboriginal consent. Tuesday night’s vote at a downtown Vancouver hotel made it three unanimous rejections in a row, said Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece.

In Vancouver, 112 Lax Kw’alaams members stood up to convey their no votes, two sources close to the native group said. Dozens of others phoned and e-mailed band officials to signal their opposition.

The voting tally “sends an unequivocal message this is not a money issue,” the Lax Kw’alaams band council said. “This is environmental and cultural.”

Mr. Reece and 12 elected councillors will make the final decision on behalf of the 3,600-member band. They left the door open for good-faith negotiations, as long as those discussions don’t involve being too close to Flora Bank.

“Lax Kw’alaams is open to business, to development and to LNG,” including talks with Pacific NorthWest LNG, according to the statement.

An estimated 800 people live in the community of Lax Kw’alaams, while roughly 1,800 are based in Prince Rupert and another 1,000 in Vancouver and elsewhere.

Besides the cash offer from Pacific NorthWest LNG, the B.C. government is willing to transfer 2,200 hectares of Crown land, valued at $108-million and spread over the Prince Rupert harbour area and other property near Lax Kw’alaams. TransCanada Corp.’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline plan is also under scrutiny by the First Nations group.

The band council said there needs to be better co-ordination among the provincial and federal governments, with the latter represented by the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA). Lelu Island and nearby waters are under jurisdiction of the port authority.

“To date, it is the considered opinion of the Lax Kw’alaams that there has been indifference to the point of negligence or willful blindness, or both, by PRPA in respect” of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, according to the band council’s statement.

Pacific NorthWest LNG filed its environmental impact statement in February, 2014. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency expressed concerns to the joint venture in May, 2014. Catherine Ponsford, the agency’s project manager for the Pacific and Yukon region, emphasized the need for Pacific NorthWest LNG to take heed of what is currently the picturesque setting of Lelu Island. “The project would convert large parts of Lelu Island, an undeveloped area of 192 hectares, into an industrial site,” she wrote in a five-page letter to Michael Lambert, Pacific NorthWest LNG’s head of environmental and regulatory affairs.

Ms. Ponsford sent another letter to Mr. Lambert in February, noting that Pacific NorthWest LNG agreed to conduct “3-D sediment dispersion modelling” to study the complex system that effectively holds Flora Bank in place. Ten weeks after that letter, Pacific NorthWest LNG submitted a new study by engineering firm Stantec Inc., dated May 5, that argued the construction of a suspension bridge and trestle from Lelu Island to Chatham Sound would not have an adverse effect on salmon habitat in Flora Bank.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which began its review of Pacific NorthWest LNG in April, 2013, is expected to rule on the project by October.

“The significance of the Skeena River estuary to area First Nations cannot be overstated,” the band council said. “Lax Kw’alaams has on staff a team of scientists directed to assess the environmental challenges posed by the existing design for movement of LNG from the terminal.”

So far, most atolls winning the sea level rise battle (Pacific Institute of Public Policy)

So far, most atolls winning the sea level rise battle

An increasing number of atoll studies are not supporting claims of Pacific island leaders that “islands are sinking.” Scientific studies published this year show, for example, that land area in Tuvalu’s capital atoll of Funafuti grew seven percent over the past century despite significant sea level rise. Another study reported that 23 of 27 atoll islands across Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia either increased in area or remained stable over recent decades.

Speaking about Kiribati, Canadian climatologist Simon Donner commented in the Scientific American: ‘Right now it is clear that no one needs to immediately wall in the islands or evacuate all the inhabitants. What the people of Kiribati and other low-lying countries need instead are well-thought-out, customized adaption plans and consistent international aid — not a breathless rush for a quick fix that makes the rest of the world feel good but obliges the island residents to play the part of helpless victim.’

These same climate scientists who are conducting ongoing research in Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands acknowledge the documented fact of sea level rise in the Pacific, and the potential threat this poses. But they are making the point, as articulated by Donner, that ‘the politicized public discourse on climate change is less nuanced than the science of reef islands.’

A recent report carried in Geology, the publication of the Geological Society of America, says Tuvalu has experienced ‘some of the highest rates of sea level rise over the past 60 years.’ At the same time, ‘no islands have been lost, the majority have enlarged, and there has been a 7.3 percent increase in net island area over the past century.’

To gain international attention to climate concerns and motivate funding to respond to what is described as climate damage, political leaders from the Pacific are predicting dire consequences.

The future viability of the Marshall Islands — and all island nations — is at stake,’ Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony deBrum told the global climate meeting in Peru last December.

‘It keeps me awake at night,’ said Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga in a recent interview. ‘Will we survive? Or will we disappear under the sea?’

Obviously, statements of island leaders at international meetings and the observations of recent scientific reports are at odds. Does it matter?

Comments Donner: ‘Exaggeration, whatever its impetus, inevitably invites backlash, which is bad because it can prevent the nation from getting the right kind of help.’

If we want to grab headlines, the ‘disappearing island’ theme is good. But to find solutions to, for example, the increasing number of ocean inundations that are occurring requires well-thought out plans.

Scientists studying these low-lying islands should be seen as allies, whose information can be used to focus attention on key areas of need. For example, the New Zealand and Australian scientists working in Tuvalu said their results “show that islands can persist on reefs under rates of sea level rise on the order of five millimeters per year.” With sea level rates projected to double in the coming years, ‘it is unclear whether islands will continue to maintain their dynamic adjustment at these higher rates of change,’ they said. ‘The challenge for low-lying atoll nations is to develop flexible adaptation strategies that recognize the likely persistence of islands over the next century, recognize the different modes of island change, and accommodate the ongoing dynamism of island margins.’

Developing precise information on atoll nations as these scientists are doing is needed to inform policy makers and local residents as people are inundated with discussion about — and, possibly, outside donor funding for — ‘adaptation’ and ‘mitigation’ in these islands.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Nuclear Claims Tribunal in the Marshall Islands hired internationally recognized scientists and medical doctors to advise it on such things as radiation exposure standards for nuclear test clean up programs and medical conditions deserving of compensation, while evaluating U.S. government scientific studies on the Marshall Islands. These scientists and doctors provided knowledge and advice that helped inform the compensation and claims process.

It seems this nuclear test-related model would be of significant benefit to islands in the region, by linking independent climate scientists with island governments so there is a connection between science and climate policies and actions of governments.

If we want to grab headlines, the ‘disappearing island’ theme is good. But to find solutions to, for example, the increasing number of ocean inundations that are occurring requires well-thought out plans.

‘The reality is that the next few decades for low-lying reef islands will be defined by an unsexy, expensive slog to adapt,’ wrote Donner in the Scientific American. ‘Success will not come from single land purchase or limited-term aid projects. It will come from years of trial and error and a long-term investment by the international community in implementing solutions tailored to specific locales.’ He comments that a World Bank-supported adaptation program in Kiribati took eight years of consultation, training, policy development and identifying priorities to finally produce a plan of action. And even then, when they rolled out sea walls for several locations, there were design faults that need to be fixed. Donner’s observation about Kiribati could equally apply to the rest of the Pacific: “Responding to climate change in a place like Kiribati requires a sustained commitment to building local scientific and engineering capacity and learning from mistakes.”

It is excellent advice.

Image: Low-lying islands, such as Majuro Atoll pictured here, are changing due to storms, erosion, high tides, seawalls and causeways, and sea level rise. But few are disappearing. Photo credit: Isaac Marty

Recorde histórico de CO2 (Observatório do Clima)

11/05/2015

Por Claudio Angelo, do OC –

A notícia correu o mundo nesta semana: a concentração de dióxido de carbono na atmosfera ultrapassou em março a marca simbólica de 400 partes por milhão, segundo anunciou a Noaa (Agência Nacional de Oceanos e Atmosfera dos EUA). É a primeira vez que isso acontece desde que a agência começou a medir esse gás em 40 pontos diferentes do planeta, na década de 1980.

Da última vez que houve tanto CO2 na atmosfera, provavelmente 3,5 milhões de anos atrás, não existiam seres humanos, nem gelo no polo Norte. A temperatura média global era de cerca de 3oC mais alta do que no período pré-industrial. O nível do mar era 4 a 5 metros mais alto do que hoje.

O anúncio foi tratado pela imprensa internacional como um “alerta vermelho” no ano da conferência do clima de Paris, que deveria (mas tem gente que acha que não vai) apontar o início da solução do problema do aquecimento global. Embora o recorde seja em si importante, o problema real é a tendência que ele indica.

Quatrocentas partes por milhão, ou ppm, é um número pequeno. Significa que, em cada milhão de moléculas de ar, há 400 de gás carbônico (lembre-se de que a atmosfera é composta quase totalmente de nitrogênio e oxigênio; o CO2 é um dos “gases-traço”, daqueles que juntos formam 1% da composição do ar).

Acontece que o gás carbônico faz o melhor estilo “chiquitito, pero cumplidor”: ele é extremamente eficiente em reter na atmosfera o calor que a Terra irradia em forma de radiação infravermelha. Não satisfeito, ele ajuda a elevar, por evaporação, os níveis atmosféricos de outro gás-estufa muito potente: o vapor d’água. Isso mesmo: como sua mãe já deve ter dito, até água em excesso faz mal.

As medições da concentração de CO2 na atmosfera começaram a ser feitas em 1958 pelo americano Charles Keeling no alto do vulcão Mauna Loa, no Havaí. O local foi escolhido por estar bem longe de fontes de poluição que pudessem enviesar as amostras de ar. O Mauna Loa, a 4.000 metros de altitude e no meio do Oceano Pacífico, representa bem como o CO2 está misturado à atmosfera global.

Quando as medições de Keeling começaram, a concentração de CO2 no ar estava em 315 ppm. Em 2013 elas ultrapassaram 400 ppm no Mauna Loa pela primeira vez, para caírem em seguida e fecharem o ano em 393 ppm. Os dados da Noaa mostram que o mesmo sinal foi detectado não apenas em um ponto, mas em dezenas de lugares diferentes mundo afora.

Assim como aconteceu em 2013, o valor vai cair nos próximos meses e fechar o ano abaixo de 400 ppm. A oscilação acontece porque no final do inverno no hemisfério Norte, onde está a maior parte das terras (portanto, da vegetação) do mundo, há muito carbono no ar. Ele vem da da decomposição das folhas que caíram no outono. Na primavera, a rebrota sequestra esse CO2 e a concentração cai novamente.

O problema, claro, é que essa concentração vem subindo de forma acelerada ano após ano. Em todo o período pré-industrial, a concentração de CO2 na atmosfera jamais ultrapassou 280 ppm. Do surgimento da espécie humana até o ano em que Keeling começou a fazer suas medições, o aumento foi de 12,5%, no máximo. Da primeira vitória do Brasil numa Copa do Mundo até hoje, o aumento já foi de outros 27%. A velocidade anual de crescimento dobrou entre 2000 e 2010 em relação a 1960-1970. Metade do aumento verificado desde a aurora da humanidade aconteceu depois de 1980.

A chamada "curva de Keeling", com o crescimento das concentrações de CO2 desde a década de 1950

 

Nesse ritmo, o CO2 terá dobrado em relação à era pré-industrial antes do final do século. Os modelos climáticos apontam que, com duas vezes mais CO2 no ar, o aumento da temperatura da Terra seria de cerca de 3oC, valor muito superior ao limite considerado “seguro” (e, para alguns, já inatingível) de 2oC acima da média pré-industrial. Segundo o IPCC, o painel do clima da ONU, para ter uma chance de 50% de atingir os 2oC, os níveis de CO2 precisariam estacionar em 450 ppm e depois cair.

Os 400 ppm são um número bizantino, mas importante por isso: apenas 50 ppm separam a humanidade de entrar em um território climático nunca antes explorado – e, ao que tudo indica, de forma alguma agradável. (Observatório do Clima/ #Envolverde)

* Publicado originalmente no site Observatório do Clima.

Sea level rise accelerating faster than thought (Science)

High tides swamp a playground in coastal Wales.

DIMITRIS LEGAKIS/SPLASH NEWS/NEWSCOM. High tides swamp a playground in coastal Wales.

If you’re still thinking about buying that beach house, think again. A new study suggests that sea levels aren’t just rising; they’re gaining ground faster than ever. That’s contrary to earlier work that suggested rising seas had slowed in recent years.

The result won’t come as a shock to most climate scientists. Long-term records from coastal tide gauges have shown that sea level rise accelerated throughout the 20th century. Models predict the trend will continue. However, previous studies based on satellite measurements—which began in 1993 and provide the most robust estimates of sea level—revealed that the rate of rise had slowed in the past decade compared with the one before.

That recent slowdown puzzled researchers, because sea level contributions from melting ice in Antarctica and Greenland are actually increasing, says Christopher Watson, a geodesist at the University of Tasmania in Australia. So he and colleagues took a closer look at the available satellite and tide gauge data, and tried to correct for other factors that might skew sea level measurements, like small changes in coastal elevation.

The results, published today in Nature Climate Change, show that global mean sea level rose slightly slower than previously thought between 1993 and 2014, but that sea level rise is indeed accelerating. The new findings agree more closely with other records of changing sea levels, like those produced by tide gauges and bottom-up accounting of the contributions from ocean warming and melting ice.

In the past, researchers have used tide gauges to keep tabs on the performance of satellite altimeters, which use radar to measure the height of the sea surface. The comparison allowed them to sniff out and cope with any issues that cropped up with the satellite sensors. Tide gauges themselves are not immune to problems, however; the land on which they rest can shift during earthquakes, or subside because of groundwater withdrawal or sediment settling. These processes can produce apparent changes in sea level that have nothing to do with the oceans.

So Watson’s team tried to correct for the rise and fall of tide gauge sites by using nearby GPS stations, which measure land motions. If no GPS stations were present, they used computer models to estimate known changes, such as how some regions continue to rebound from the last glaciation, when heavy ice sheets caused land to sink.

The newly recalibrated numbers show that the earliest part of the satellite record, collected between 1993 and 1999 by the first altimetry mission, known as TOPEX/Poseidon, appears to have overstated sea level rise. That’s probably because a sensor deteriorated, ultimately forcing engineers to turn on a backup instrument. When combined with data from subsequent satellite missions, those inflated TOPEX/Poseidon numbers gave the appearance that sea level rise was decelerating, even as the global climate warmed.

Also contributing to the apparent slowdown was a hiccup caused by natural climate variation, says John Church, a climate scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Hobart, Australia, and a co-author of the new study. Around 2011, “there was a major dip in sea level associated with major flooding events in Australia and elsewhere,” he says. Intense rainfall transferred water from the oceans to the continents, temporarily overriding the long-term sea level trend.

The corrected record now shows that sea level rose 2.6 millimeters to 2.9 millimeters per year since 1993, compared with prior estimates of 3.2 millimeters per year. Despite the slower rates, the study found that sea level rise accelerated by an additional 0.04 millimeters per year, although the acceleration is not statistically significant. Watson says he expects that trend to grow stronger as researchers collect more data.

The acceleration falls in line with predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Watson notes. “We’re tracking at that upper bound” of the IPCC’s business-as-usual scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, he says, which could bring up to one meter of sea level rise by 2100.

Others say it’s too early to tell. “The IPCC is looking way out in time,” says geodesist Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who was not involved in the study. “This is only 20 years of data.”

In the meantime, Nerem says, the altimetry community needs to focus on continuing to improve the satellite data. He thinks Watson’s team “addressed it in the best way we can right now,” but it would be even better “to have a GPS receiver at every tide gauge, and right now that’s not the case.”

Regardless, the underlying message is clear, Church says: Sea levels are rising at ever increasing rates, and society needs to take notice.

Reunião Magna da ABC ressalta que o prazer de fazer ciência pela ciência está acima de qualquer premiação (Jornal da Ciência)

terça-feira, 12 de maio de 2015

    12.05 - Suzana

    Evento atraiu parcela de leigos interessados em comprovar que o desenvolvimento científico pode ser uma solução para os problemas socioeconômicos do Brasil

    Para participantes e organizadores da Reunião Magna 2015 da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, realizada de 4 a 6 de maio, no Rio de Janeiro, é, sem dúvida, difícil elencar os momentos que mais capturaram a atenção. A excelência dos temas escolhidos para as sessões, assim como o alto nível dos palestrantes, atraiu um público variado, que reuniu desde jovens talentos da Ciência no Brasil aos renomados integrantes da Academia e que há anos trabalham, dentro e fora de laboratórios, para que o Brasil ganhe destaque no cenário de produção científica internacional.

    Sob o tema “O Valor da Ciência”, na acepção de Poincaré, matemático, físico e filósofo francês que conferiu uma nova abordagem à Ciência entre os séculos XIX e XX, a Reunião Magna 2015 estimulou a discussão em torno do valor intrínseco de atividade científica _ ciência pela ciência_, ressaltando a importância da Ciência para o desenvolvimento socioeconômico brasileiro. Entre as palestras, um denominador comum ficou claro, é preciso estimular a ousadia dos jovens cientistas para que as pesquisas se transformem em inovação. Outro ponto em comum das apresentações dos cientistas foi a importância do trabalho de equipe e valorização de cada colaborador em uma pesquisa.

    Ganhadora do Prêmio Nobel de Química e primeira mulher israelense a obter a premiação, a cientista Ada Yonath mostrou que o bom humor é um traço dos pesquisadores, que têm o brilho no olhar ao comprovar o fundamento de suas pesquisas. Após sua palestra no último dia da Reunião Magna, Ada conheceu o Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas da UFRJ. Recebida pelo vice-diretor do Instituto, prof. José Garcia Abreu, e pela coordenadora do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Morfológicas da UFRJ, profa. Flávia Alcantara Gomes, Membro Afiliado da ABC, Ada afirmou, com relação às perguntas dos alunos de pós-graduação, sobre o que representou ganhar o prêmio Nobel, que “ganhar o prêmio foi bom…. mas entender a estrutura dos ribossomos foi o que me deu de fato a maior satisfação”. Ela deixou claro que o prazer da descoberta científica deve estar acima do prazer do reconhecimento.

    O prazer de concluir uma pesquisa e ver o trabalho de anos refletindo em um bem maior para sociedade também foi a mensagem do biólogo francês Jules Hoffmann, vencedor do Prêmio Nobel de Fisiologia/ Medicina de 2011, por um trabalho feito com Bruce Beutler que descobriu a ativação da imunidade inata. Ele capturou atenção máxima de todo o público do segundo dia da Reunião Magna de 2015. Atualmente à frente da direção da área de pesquisa e membro do Conselho de Administração do Centro Nacional de Pesquisa Científica da França (CNRS), ele enalteceu a contribuição de todos os demais integrantes de sua equipe, que, segundo ele, foram fundamentais para o resultado.

    Respostas às inquietudes

    Ao final do evento, o coordenador da Reunião Magna 2015, professor Vivaldo Moura Neto, disse ao Jornal da Ciência que a escolha do tema teve a intenção de destacar o prazer humano de fazer ciência, de buscar respostas às inquietudes do homem diante da natureza. Segundo ele, é preciso valorizar a Ciência no que ela pode trazer como implicações no desenvolvimento tecnológico, inovador e assim certamente contribuir para o desenvolvimento do país.

    “Nós, hoje como ontem e ainda amanhã, precisaremos estar atentos a isto. Será preciso que os governantes reconheçam a contribuição da Ciência brasileira ao desenvolvimento, uma ciência madura, produtiva, rica de possibilidades para atender ao desenvolvimento nacional. Repetimos isto durante os três dias, demonstramos esta verdade com projetos em curso e resultados testados”, disse. “Vejam exemplos do que se faz no CENPES, na COPPE, nos Institutos do Centro de Ciências da saúde da UFRJ, na USP, na Universidade de Campinas, na Bioquímica da UFRGS, no Instituto do Cérebro da PUC-do Rio Grande do Sul, ou o trabalho dos virologistas no Pará, além de tantos mais. De fato, o encontro permitiu mostrar o quanto estamos prontos para oferecer, a partir da ciência fundamental, os produtos que ela sabe gerar. Os engenheiros foram contundentes nos seus exemplos. É incrível a miopia de tantos que, lá do alto, não veem o que se passa aqui na terra brasilis”, completou o coordenador da Reunião Magna 2015.

    Atrair os jovens

    Nesta edição, a Reunião Magna atraiu, além de cientistas experientes e jovens talentos da produção científica, um grupo expressivo de “leigos”, segundo o professor Moura Neto. “Nos três dias da Reunião, houve relatos das experiências dos mais vividos, mas todos nós sabemos que não se faz um pesquisador, não se faz um cientista, de repente. É preciso atrair os jovens, entusiasmá-los, orientá-los. No entanto, não havia apenas jovens de centros universitários, ou os mais experientes da ciência, havia uma parcela de leigos, que certamente encontrou na Reunião Magna uma fonte de conhecimento, uma esperança de que se poderá melhorar o país. Seria interessante, naturalmente, que os governantes também vissem isto”, completou Moura Neto.

    Sobre a participação dos convidados estrangeiros e da sua percepção sobre o desenvolvimento da produção científica no Brasil, o coordenador da Reunião Magna 2015 disse que eles já têm colaboração com equipes brasileiras. “Se eles mantêm estas colaborações, é porque sabem da qualidade excelente do que fazemos aqui. Eles mesmo disseram isto, como por exemplo o matemático francês Etiennen Ghys, que aliás fez parte de sua formação no Rio de Janeiro, no IMPA”, comentou.

    Segundo Moura Neto, o prêmio Nobel Jules Hoffmann enalteceu, nas suas conversas de corredor na ABC, durante o evento, a satisfação de suas colaborações com esquipes paulistas. O coordenador da Reunião Magna também comentou que a cientista Ada Yonath, que, segundo ele, encantou a todos com uma conferência espetacular, manifestou possibilidades de colaborar com grupos brasileiros. “Se eles querem estas colaborações é porque nos reconhecem ombro a ombro”, finalizou.

    Suzana Liskauskas/ Jornal da Ciência

    How Facebook’s Algorithm Suppresses Content Diversity (Modestly) and How the Newsfeed Rules Your Clicks (The Message)

    Zeynep Tufekci on May 7, 2015

    Today, three researchers at Facebook published an article in Science on how Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm suppresses the amount of “cross-cutting” (i.e. likely to cause disagreement) news articles a person sees. I read a lot of academic research, and usually, the researchers are at a pains to highlight their findings. This one buries them as deep as it could, using a mix of convoluted language and irrelevant comparisons. So, first order of business is spelling out what they found. Also, for another important evaluation — with some overlap to this one — go read this post by University of Michigan professor Christian Sandvig.

    The most important finding, if you ask me, is buried in an appendix. Here’s the chart showing that the higher an item is in the newsfeed, the more likely it is clicked on.

    Notice how steep the curve is. The higher the link, more (a lot more) likely it will be clicked on. You live and die by placement, determined by the newsfeed algorithm. (The effect, as Sean J. Taylor correctly notes, is a combination of placement, and the fact that the algorithm is guessing what you would like). This was already known, mostly, but it’s great to have it confirmed by Facebook researchers (the study was solely authored by Facebook employees).

    The most important caveat that is buried is that this study is not about all of Facebook users, despite language at the end that’s quite misleading. The researchers end their paper with: “Finally, we conclusively establish that on average in the context of Facebook…” No. The research was conducted on a small, skewed subset of Facebook users who chose to self-identify their political affiliation on Facebook and regularly log on to Facebook, about ~4% of the population available for the study. This is super important because this sampling confounds the dependent variable.

    The gold standard of sampling is random, where every unit has equal chance of selection, which allows us to do amazing things like predict elections with tiny samples of thousands. Sometimes, researchers use convenience samples — whomever they can find easily — and those can be okay, or not, depending on how typical the sample ends up being compared to the universe. Sometimes, in cases like this, the sampling affects behavior: people who self-identify their politics are almost certainly going to behave quite differently, on average, than people who do not, when it comes to the behavior in question which is sharing and clicking through ideologically challenging content. So, everything in this study applies only to that small subsample of unusual people. (Here’s a post by the always excellent Eszter Hargittai unpacking the sampling issue further.) The study is still interesting, and important, but it is not a study that can generalize to Facebook users. Hopefully that can be a future study.

    What does the study actually say?

    • Here’s the key finding: Facebook researchers conclusively show that Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm decreases ideologically diverse, cross-cutting content people see from their social networks on Facebook by a measurable amount. The researchers report that exposure to diverse content is suppressed by Facebook’s algorithm by 8% for self-identified liberals and by 5% for self-identified conservatives. Or, as Christian Sandvig puts it, “the algorithm filters out 1 in 20 cross-cutting hard news stories that a self-identified conservative sees (or 5%) and 1 in 13cross-cutting hard news stories that a self-identified liberal sees (8%).” You are seeing fewer news items that you’d disagree with which are shared by your friends because the algorithm is not showing them to you.
    • Now, here’s the part which will likely confuse everyone, but it should not. The researchers also report a separate finding that individual choice to limit exposure through clicking behavior results in exposure to 6% less diverse content for liberals and 17% less diverse content for conservatives.

    Are you with me? One novel finding is that the newsfeed algorithm (modestly) suppresses diverse content, and another crucial and also novel finding is that placement in the feed is (strongly) influential of click-through rates.

    Researchers then replicate and confirm a well-known, uncontested and long-established finding which is that people have a tendency to avoid content that challenges their beliefs. Then, confusingly, the researchers compare whether algorithm suppression effect size is stronger than people choosing what to click, and have a lot of language that leads Christian Sandvig to call this the “it’s not our fault” study. I cannot remember a worse apples to oranges comparison I’ve seen recently, especially since these two dynamics, algorithmic suppression and individual choice, have cumulative effects.

    Comparing the individual choice to algorithmic suppression is like asking about the amount of trans fatty acids in french fries, a newly-added ingredient to the menu, and being told that hamburgers, which have long been on the menu, also have trans-fatty acids — an undisputed, scientifically uncontested and non-controversial fact. Individual self-selection in news sources long predates the Internet, and is a well-known, long-identified and well-studied phenomenon. Its scientific standing has never been in question. However, the role of Facebook’s algorithm in this process is a new — and important — issue. Just as the medical profession would be concerned about the amount of trans-fatty acids in the new item, french fries, as well as in the existing hamburgers, researchers should obviously be interested in algorithmic effects in suppressing diversity, in addition to long-standing research on individual choice, since the effects are cumulative. An addition, not a comparison, is warranted.

    Imagine this (imperfect) analogy where many people were complaining, say, a washing machine has a faulty mechanism that sometimes destroys clothes. Now imagine washing machine company research paper which finds this claim is correct for a small subsample of these washing machines, and quantifies that effect, but also looks into how many people throw out their clothes before they are totally worn out, a well-established, undisputed fact in the scientific literature. The correct headline would not be “people throwing out used clothes damages more dresses than the the faulty washing machine mechanism.” And if this subsample was drawn from one small factory located everywhere else than all the other factories that manufacture the same brand, and produced only 4% of the devices, the headline would not refer to all washing machines, and the paper would not (should not) conclude with a claim about the average washing machine.

    Also, in passing the paper’s conclusion appears misstated. Even though the comparison between personal choice and algorithmic effects is not very relevant, the result is mixed, rather than “conclusively establish[ing] that on average in the context of Facebook individual choices more than algorithms limit exposure to attitude-challenging content”. For self-identified liberals, the algorithm was a stronger suppressor of diversity (8% vs. 6%) while for self-identified conservatives, it was a weaker one (5% vs 17%).)

    Also, as Christian Sandvig states in this post, and Nathan Jurgenson in this important post here, and David Lazer in the introduction to the piece in Science explore deeply, the Facebook researchers are not studying some neutral phenomenon that exists outside of Facebook’s control. The algorithm is designed by Facebook, and is occasionally re-arranged, sometimes to the devastation of groups who cannot pay-to-play for that all important positioning. I’m glad that Facebook is choosing to publish such findings, but I cannot but shake my head about how the real findings are buried, and irrelevant comparisons take up the conclusion. Overall, from all aspects, this study confirms that for this slice of politically-engaged sub-population, Facebook’s algorithm is a modest suppressor of diversity of content people see on Facebook, and that newsfeed placement is a profoundly powerful gatekeeper for click-through rates. This, not all the roundabout conversation about people’s choices, is the news.

    Late Addition: Contrary to some people’s impressions, I am not arguing against all uses of algorithms in making choices in what we see online. The questions that concern me are how these algorithms work, what their effects are, who controls them, and what are the values that go into the design choices. At a personal level, I’d love to have the choice to set my newsfeed algorithm to “please show me more content I’d likely disagree with” — something the researchers prove that Facebook is able to do.

    New Territories in Acre and Why They Matter (E-flux)

    Journal #59, 11/2014

    Marjetica Potrč

    The Croa River community consists of approximately four hundred families spread out across eighty thousand hectares of Amazonian forest. They aspire to see the land they inhabit become an extraction reserve, and in fact, it is in the process of becoming precisely this: one of the new territories in Acre. As such, it is a good example of the current trend toward territorialization in the Brazilian state. It is also a good example of what territories stand for: self-organization, sustainable growth, and local knowledge.


    Territorialization of Acre State (1988, 1999, 2006), Courtesy the artist

    The Croa community’s land is located a few hours’ drive and a short boat ride from Cruzeiro do Sul. A small city, Cruzeiro do Sul is a major center for the western part of Acre and the region around the Jurua River. There are daily flights from Rio Branco, and the town is accessible by road from Rio Branco six months of the year and by the Jurua River throughout the year. From Cruzeiro do Sul it takes two to three weeks to travel by boat to Manaus. In short, the Croa community is nestled in the western corner of Brazil’s Amazonian forest and, from the perspective of São Paulo, seems a remote and isolated place—something that, in our world of excessive connectivity, is considered a negative. But from the perspective of the people who live there, relative isolation can be a bonus. The communities I saw, including the Croa community, draw strength from their cultural identity and a sustainable economy. Not all these communities are strong, but they understand clearly that both these conditions are necessary if they are to thrive. The communities are well connected among themselves and, beyond Acre, with the world—strangely enough, many of the things that concern them are, in fact, more closely related to world issues than to specifically Brazilian ones.


    Left: Ashanika Indian, Acre. Photo by Mauro Almeida. Right: Marjetica Potrč, Drawing No.1/7: Pattern Protects, 2007, 7 drawings. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin.

    When such communities reach out to others, they want to do it on their own terms. They want to interact in a positive way with others and at the same time remain separate. By reaffirming their own territories, they are actively participating in the creation of twenty-first-century models of coexistence, where the melting pot of global cities is balanced by centers where people voluntarily segregate themselves. After all, one of the most successful and sought-after models of living together today is the gated community—the small-scale residential entity. But unlike gated communities, which represent static strategies of retreat and self-enclosure, the new territories in Acre are dynamic and proactive: they reach out to others.


    Isolation and Connectivity, Left: Marjetica Potrč, drawing for project The Struggle for Spatial Justice (A luta por justiça espacial) for 27a. Bienal de São Paulo. Right: Marjetica Potrč, Drawing No.5/12, Florestania, 2006, 12 drawings. Courtesy the artist and Max Protetch Gallery, New York.

    Statement #1: The world must be pixelized! Democracy is particles!

    Over the past two decades, Acre has been pixelizing itself into new territories, such as extraction reserves and Indian territories, along with sustainable urban territories. The government supports the territorialization of the state. These new territories are the result of collaboration between the government and local communities. The communities are self-organized entities and, basically, bottom-up initiatives. Their focus is on empowering their own people (education is a primary concern); practicing the sustainable extraction of forest-based resources; and developing a small-scale economy as both a tool for their communities’ survival (several communities have been successfully selling their goods on the global market) and as a counter-model to the globalized economy created by multinational companies and organizations. The Acrean communities have a particular approach to land ownership. In the new territories, the emphasis is not on the individual owning land and extracting resources from it solely for his own benefit, but on the collective ownership and sustainable management of natural resources for the benefit of the whole community. Here, the existence of an individual is understood essentially as coexistence. Being always means “being with,” and “I” does not take precedence over “we.”1 In short, the new territories suggest forms of living together that go beyond neoliberalism and its understanding of individualism, liberal democracy, and market capitalism.

    Notice that the new territories of Acre represent a social and economic alternative to China’s new territories, which are characterized by fast-growing, large-scale economies and an ideology of progress. The territories of Acre, by contrast, are grounded in a small-scale economy; the people who live there feel a personal responsibility both toward their own communities and toward the world community.

    In fact, in their dynamics of deregulation and strategies of transition, Acre’s new territories suggest a different comparison: with the European Union as it is today. As a geopolitical entity, Europe is constantly expanding. It is a body in flux. Within its shifting boundaries, the consequences of the gradual dissolution of the social state and the ideology of multiculturalism can be seen in territories consolidated around ethnic groups and other kinds of communities. As last year’s rejection of the EU constitution by French and Dutch voters indicates, people want to live in a more localized European Union; similarly, the EU explores a paradigm in which regional entities serve as a counterbalance to the nation-state. An emphasis on the local means that more decisions are taken at the local level and bottom-up initiatives are on the increase. The state of “transition” is accepted as a working model, and there is a civil society in the making that is quite different not only from the society of twentieth-century modernism, which feared any threat to unity, but also from the present-day ideology of globalization. As regionalism and localism gain ground, new models of coexistence emerge, such as urban villages and urban villas, new typologies of residential architecture. In the heyday of the modernist national state, a residential community could mean some ten thousand people. Today, an urban village means two thousand people—a dramatic shrinkage from the earlier model. Another important distinction is that today’s urban villages are, again, bottom-up initiatives, while the modernist residential community was organized from the top down. The question is: just how far is it possible to “downscale” the world community?

    The territories in Acre are the result of “degrowth,” the process by which society fragments and pixelizes itself down to the level of the local community, and sometimes even further, to the level of the individual.2 Age-old wisdom tells us that when individuals take responsibility for building their own lives, they also build their communities, and beyond that, the world community: “When I build my life, I build the world.” As the Acrean territories show, communities see the consequences of such practices very clearly: they see “upscaling”—the scaling down of the economy and the pixelation of territories produce a new kind of connectedness: “upgrowth.” In Acre, particles and group identities are forces of democracy.

    Statement #2: We must grow up strong together!

    A precondition for communities in the new territories to thrive is that they draw strength from a sustainable economy, local experience—a loose notion that embraces the importance of cultural identity—and education. The communities believe that territories which are strong in these areas have the best chance to prosper. Although the emphasis is clearly on the local (they see rural communities as guaranteeing greater dignity, in contrast to the kind of life migrants to urban centers experience), they do not romanticize localness. They see themselves as players in the contemporary world: they had to overcome both the colonial past and the dominant globalizing pressures of the present. Theirs is a post-colonial, post-neoliberal practice. From where they stand, they see the future as their present.

    Universidade da Floresta (University of the Forest), Acre. Left: video still by Garret Linn, in Marjetica Potrč, Florestania: A New Citizenship, video, 2006. Courtesy the artist and Max Protetch Gallery, New York. Right: Marjetica Potrč, drawing for project The Struggle for Spatial Justice (A luta por justiça espacial) for 27a. Bienal de São Paulo.

    Practice #1: We are growing up together strong; we are connected! But first, let’s isolate ourselves. Only then we will be able to connect on our own terms.

    The new territories of Acre are, indeed, strong and well aware of the benefits that come from being connected. Clearly, local emphasis, self-esteem, and connectedness make a perfect match, not a contradiction. I am thinking in particular of an ongoing initiative by Indian tribes to connect their remote areas via satellite through solar-powered communication centers. Representatives from the tribes are traveling all the time—at least this was the impression I received from encountering them on the streets of Rio Branco and at airports, or, for that matter, not seeing them because they were in São Paulo while I was in Rio Branco, or in Rio Branco when I was in Cruzeiro do Sul. Indeed, I had the feeling that they traveled more than Paulistas. An Acrean can with justice say to a Paulista: “I know you, but you don’t know me.” The general feeling one gets in São Paulo is that Acre is very far away, an unknown, isolated region, not well connected at all. This perspective of the center toward the periphery is overturned in Acre, where territories are understood as centers that want to connect on their own terms. Acreans don’t see themselves as being too isolated. They like their degree of isolation. They draw on the wisdom of the forest: the “center” is a place in the forest where the “game”—the chance to make a good life for oneself thanks to the proximity of natural resources and community infrastructure—is strong and multiple connections to the outside world are not necessarily a bonus; the “periphery,” meanwhile, is along the river, where a person may be more connected to the world outside but the “game” is not so strong. As always—and as common wisdom tells us—the center is what’s most important.


    School Bus, Croa Community, Acre. Left: video still by Garret Linn, in Marjetica Potrč, Florestania: A New Citizenship, video, 2006. Courtesy the artist and Max Protetch Gallery, New York. Right: Marjetica Potrč, drawing for project The Struggle for Spatial Justice (A luta por justiça espacial) for 27a. Bienal de São Paulo.

    Practice #2: We marry local experience with hi-tech knowledge!

    The new territories of Acre are strong “centers” with rich local experience; they balance connectedness and isolation well. In a way, these territories are perfect islands: you can reach anyone from here but not everyone can reach you. The next most important thing is their practice of self-sustainable management—the result of blending local experience and hi-tech knowledge. Hi-tech sustainable solutions help them upgrade their living conditions, and allow them to communicate and trade from remote locations with little or no energy infrastructure. Advanced technology (such as solar-powered satellite dishes) means that at last, in the twenty-first century, the remote territories of Acre can themselves become centers, no less than other places, by using self-generated energy, which in turn gives them greater freedom in communicating. Without a doubt, the combination of local experience (from the territories) with hi-tech knowledge (from Brazil) is potentially a geopolitical advantage. But can it really work without the support of the state?

    Practice #3: Happiness is: growing in small steps! Ours is a dignified life! We are accountable for ourselves and to others!

    Those who manage the sustainable extraction of forest-based resources see the small-scale economy both as a tool for their own survival as well as a new economic model that is necessary for the survival of the planet and society at large. In Acre, clichés acquire real meaning: “The survival of the rain forest is the survival of the earth; the rain forest is the final frontier; the world is one community.” It feels as if Acre’s government and its people are on a mission. Does the future of the world depend on locally managed territories and small-scale economies providing a balance to the globalizing forces of multinational companies and organizations? The people I spoke with in Acre are convinced of this. But there’s a Catch-22, an obvious contradiction that resides in the very notion of sustainability. While any nonsustainable extraction of forest resources would have dire consequences not only to these communities but also to the entire world, efforts to achieve self-sustainable management of the forest through a small-scale economy present important challenges. Can the territories really survive and even thrive on this? Apart from natural resources, how well does local knowledge trade on the global market?

    Practice #4: We protect what belongs to us! Cupuaçu is ours!

    The new territories of Acre are strong centers and well connected; they practice self-sustainability and self-protection. The protection of the new territories is a must, not only because of the long history of their cultures being abused—which means self-protection comes naturally to those who live here—but also because of the ongoing threat of bio-piracy. The unlawful theft of natural resources in a region whose greatest wealth is biodiversity ranges from famous incidents involving the theft of rubber tree seeds (which led to the collapse of the region’s rubber extraction economy), to recent cases of a Japanese company, among others, attempting to patent the indigenous fruit known as cupuaçu (the Japanese patent has recently been revoked). So it’s no surprise, really, that Acre’s efforts to protect the territories from outsiders may seem excessive. The remoteness of their location does not guarantee sufficient protection for the Indian territories. If visitors to an extraction reserve are viewed with healthy suspicion because of fears that they might be involved with bio-piracy, a visit to an Indian tribe is extremely difficult to arrange. The main reason for this is to shield indigenous cultures. In theory, all would-be visitors to an Indian tribe must state their reasons for wanting to travel there, and visits must then be approved by the community. In this way, the territories remind us of the fortified city-states of Renaissance Italy or today’s contested territories in the West Bank. Indeed, the Acrean practice of planting trees as border protection in defense of one’s territory mirrors practices by Palestinians and Jewish settlers before the erection of the Israeli Barrier Wall halted negotiations between the two communities. A major difference, however, is that, while the Acrean territories may recall walled cities, they are not closed off. Today, the borders of these fragile and contested territories are porous. They permit and even welcome negotiations. And as for any precise demarcation of these territories’ borders, this remains in flux for the simple reason that rivers change their course and villages relocate themselves in the search for natural resources. And here is a contradiction: these strong territories are in fact fragile territories. To be able to exist and prosper, they need to be constantly communicating with the world and negotiating with their neighbors.

    Practice #5: We are not objects of study! We want to share our knowledge on equal terms! In a horizontal world, education must be horizontal! To each group, their own education! We are unique!

    Education—learning and sharing knowledge—is a crucial issue for the new territories, but the same may be said for the whole of Brazil and beyond. We have learned that the riches of education, though seemingly immaterial, are what guarantee the material wealth of nations. Today, the richest countries are those with the strongest educational systems. This awareness is even more important in the context of Brazil, ranked first in the world in the gap between rich and poor—which also means there is an immense gap where education is concerned. The new territories of Acre, although wealthy in both natural and intellectual resources, cannot hope to provide the kind of high-quality education the rich world demands. But being so inventive, the people of Acre organize things differently. The goal is to customize education for particular groups in the community. Established hierarchies are put in question, and education is organized in a way that makes sense for the community. Schools and local knowledge are cherished and protected—just as the territories themselves are. It struck me that the demands that shape education are, in a way, similar to those that shape the territories. Both exist for their people and both are necessary for people’s prosperity and aspirations, framing the life of the community.

    Two collaborations are under way in Acre that I find especially inspiring. One involves the building of schools in remote areas for primary education; this is a collaboration between the local communities and the government. A typical school of this sort is equipped with extensive solar paneling and a satellite dish—in other words, an energy supply and a means of communication with the world. The second collaboration concerns higher education. This is the University of the Forest, whose goal is to bring together the knowledge of rubber-tappers, Indians, academics, and scientists so as to marry local experience with Western science. This makes sense. Brazil, after all, is a hi-tech country where the knowledge of those who live in the forest is not taught in the classroom but experienced directly. Indians and rubber-tappers, the caretakers of the forest, don’t want to be objects of research. They want to contribute to our shared knowledge on an equal basis. They want to trade their knowledge as they see fit. I see the University of the Forest as a new and important model for higher education.

    Statement #3: The people of the ’60s were thinkers; we are doers!

    My aim in writing this was to make sense of what I experienced during my stay in Acre in March and April 2006. I know that my assessment of the situation is far from thorough, but so be it. For me, it all comes down to the question: “What does it mean to live a dignified and responsible life today?” I realize that the community structures in Acre are not intended as models for other communities. The things I have mentioned here are simply their practice—the practice of sustainable existence. For me, their strategies recall other twenty-first-century experiences, such as the new states of the Western Balkans, which were formed when the region collapsed in the wars in the 1990s; like Acre, this region, too, has become pixelized into small territories—territories that are rejuvenating themselves by implementing practices and pursuing aspirations similar to those of the people of Acre. In both cases, downscaling is producing a scaling up: these particles and group identities are not static and self-enclosed, but dynamic and open to the world. I believe that faster and slower worlds can exist simultaneously in parallel realities, and the Western Balkans and Acre seem to me to be fast worlds, in some ways ahead of the rest. So it’s possible for us to learn from their practices.

    I loved what I saw in Acre. It would be nice to think that the proposals of Constant and Yona Friedman, as well as other thinkers of the 1960s, such as Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark, who dreamed of a world community, provided inspiration for the people who are today forging Acre’s new territories, but I know that the Acreans have very likely never heard of them. Still, it’s beautiful to see that the doers of today are materializing the ideas of the thinkers of the ’60s. I thought it was fantastic how everyone we talked with in Acre saw clearly the benefits of their practices, for both themselves and the world community, and understood how to implement them. The new Acrean territories make me hopeful for our future coexistence. Their success is evidence that humanity can function as an intelligent organism. As it reaches critical mass, the world community, combined with a free-market economy, is generating alternative approaches to today’s neoliberalism, whether this means an emphasis on small-scale economies or a society based on local communities. Most importantly, those who live in the Acrean territories understand themselves as particles in, and contributors to, the world community.


    Rural School “Luiz Placido Fernandes,” Acre. Left: Courtesy of Seplands and Prodeem, the State of Acre, Brazil. Right: Marjetica Potrč, drawing for project The Struggle for Spatial Justice (A luta por justiça espacial) for 27a. Bienal de São Paulo.

    For sharing their vision and experience, I am particularly grateful to Camila Sposati, who provided me with a superb introduction to Acre and its people, to Sergio de Carvalho e Souza, who was an incredible guide for understanding the new territories, to members of the Croa community (Gean Carlos de Oliveira and Silvana Rossi), to representatives of the Indians (Luiz Waldenir Silva de Souza and Mutsa Katukina), the extraction reserves, and the government (Chico Genu and Marcus Vinicius), as well as to Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, co-author of the Enciclopédia da Floresta and a key figure in the University of the Forest, and many others besides.

    Em favor da florestania (Trópico)

    entrevista: Mauro Almeida

    Por Renato Sztutman

    A Universidade da Floresta, no Acre, luta para combinar o conhecimento científico com os saberes dos povos da região

    A função de uma universidade pública é, ao menos em teoria, garantir o acesso de todos os cidadãos ao conhecimento. Nisso reside o seu ideal de igualdade. Sabe-se, no entanto, que esse acesso “universal” acaba restrito a uma fatia da população que pôde contar com uma educação de alto nível e que partilha determinados valores culturais. O desafio passa a ser, então, como incluir no ensino superior a população menos favorecida, por vezes pertencente a diferentes segmentos étnicos e culturais, vetores minoritários da sociedade.

    A esse desafio soma-se outro, igualmente urgente: conceber um plano de ensino e pesquisa que reconheça nessas pessoas não receptáculos de um conjunto de saberes assegurados como universais, mas sobretudo sujeitos do conhecimento, capazes de realizar sínteses próprias e, ainda, transformar os conhecimentos produzidos pelo Ocidente moderno. Nesse sentido, incluir pode deixar de significar o enquadramento necessário em uma realidade estabelecida para designar um diálogo simétrico e transformador.

    Esses desafios têm sido bastante discutidos por Mauro Almeida, professor de antropologia da Unicamp (Universidade Estadual de Campinas), mais precisamente no que diz respeito à sua experiência com a concepção da Universidade da Floresta, inaugurada no início de 2006 na cidade de Cruzeiro do Sul.

    Localizada no extremo ocidente do Brasil, no Estado do Acre, num ponto quase eqüidistante entre Rio Branco e o oceano Pacífico, a região de Cruzeiro do Sul caracteriza-se pela sua riquíssima biodiversidade. Para Mauro Almeida, como para os demais idealizadores desse novo centro de ensino, o importante é promover a convivência, no interior e nos interstícios do ambiente acadêmico, de saberes tradicionais e científicos, de modo que sejam produzidas reflexões sobre o futuro da região em questão, o que exige investigações sobre manejo ambiental, biodiversidade, saúde e diversidade lingüística e cultural.

    Nota-se que o Acre revela uma luta já antiga em favor da “florestania”, neologismo bem-sucedido ali empregado para fazer referência a essa percepção de que a cidadania deve estender-se aos habitantes e seres da floresta, não podendo estar dissociada da questão ambiental.

    O campus expandido da Universidade Federal do Acre (Ufac), em Cruzeiro do Sul, que já conta com cursos de biologia, enfermagem, engenharia florestal, pedagogia e letras, todos eles constituídos por pesquisadores formados em importantes centros acadêmicos, é apenas uma das pontas do que se chama Universidade da Floresta. O campus está associado em rede ao Instituto da Biodiversidade e Manejo dos Recursos Naturais, órgão voltado à pesquisa admitindo a presença de pesquisadores indígenas e seringueiros, e ao Centro de Formação e Tecnologia da Floresta (Ceflora), responsável pelo oferecimento de cursos profissionalizantes e oficinas técnicas.

    Essa estrutura em rede permite articular o ensino com uma atividade de pesquisa de ponta e, ao mesmo tempo, integrar a população local. Assim, o conhecimento científico sobre o ambiente, bem como as condições para o uso de recursos naturais de maneira sustentável, são produzidos dentro de uma relação de respeito e diálogo com as populações indígenas, seringueiras e ribeirinhas. Estas se tornam agentes fundamentais nos processos de pesquisa e fazem valer suas demandas, como a comercialização de determinados produtos e a proteção de seus conhecimentos, freqüentemente ameaçados por interesses comerciais privados e predatórios.

    Como aposta Almeida na entrevista abaixo, um novo conceito de universidade está sendo gestado, permitindo que o conhecimento acadêmico seja produzido em mão-dupla. Alunos da cidade são levados à floresta e impulsionados a conduzir suas pesquisas e rever seus pressupostos por meio da valorização dos conhecimentos dos povos da região, transmitidos sobretudo por determinados “mestres” -como os pajés- que detêm saberes específicos sobre o ambiente.

    De modo reverso, índios e seringueiros são aos poucos trazidos às cidades, às salas de aula e aos laboratórios, tornando-se colaboradores e pesquisadores. (Num futuro não muito longínquo, quem sabe, eles poderão ser também incorporados como docentes.) Se esse intercâmbio der certo, resultando em sínteses criativas entre saberes científicos e locais, um ideal mais concreto de inclusão terá sido alcançado. As populações locais terão sido reconhecidas como sujeitos do conhecimento, e não apenas como sujeitos carentes de conhecimento. A universidade terá se tornado, enfim, espaço da pluralidade, uma “pluriversidade” aberta a todos.

    *

    Como nasceu a idéia da Universidade da Floresta? A que tipo de demandas ela vem atendendo no Acre?

    Mauro Almeida: A idéia surgiu há vários anos e, em 2003, ela estourou em uma reunião pública que contou com a participação de 500 pessoas, incluindo 80 organizações de todos os tipos. Essa reunião discutiu o ensino superior em Cruzeiro do Sul, segunda cidade do Acre e que fica a 600 km da capital, Rio Branco. Atualmente, ela possui 60 mil habitantes, está em crescimento. Ela está sendo conectada ao Brasil por uma estrada asfaltada, a BR-364, que passa por Rondônia e provavelmente continuará até o Ucaiali, de onde já há ligação com o Pacífico, passando pelos Andes.

    A expectativa é que, num período próximo, haja um fluxo muito grande nessa região. E isso exige um planejamento adequado para o uso da floresta e dos recursos, e também para a proteção das populações indígenas e tradicionais que lá se encontram. A região de Cruzeiro do Sul abriga a maior parte das áreas indígenas e das unidades de conservação do Estado do Acre. Praticamente metade dessa microrregião é ocupada por parques nacionais, terras indígenas e reservas extrativistas. Trata-se de uma área que conta com uma altíssima biodiversidade.

    O desafio que se apresenta é, portanto, compatibilizar a conservação da riqueza natural com o respeito aos direitos intelectuais e culturais das populações indígenas, seringueiros e agricultores locais e, além disso, encontrar meios para melhorar a qualidade de vida das pessoas que ali habitam. É preciso, então, fazer face às pressões que vão chegar quando a BR-364 estiver concluída. Uma das maneiras de fazer isso é pela educação.

    O deputado federal Henrique Afonso (PT) transformou a demanda da população local pelo ensino superior na bandeira de seu mandato e foi buscar apoio entre cientistas e pesquisadores que já estavam trabalhando nessa região e entre indígenas e seringueiros. Não se tratava simplesmente de fazer uma campanha para criar novos cursos -cursos tradicionais, como o de direito.

    A idéia era mais ousada, era articular a universidade com a criação de cursos que fossem voltados para a busca de soluções apropriadas para o uso dos recursos naturais da região e de uma forma de gerar renda que respeitasse o meio ambiente e as populações indígenas e tradicionais.
    Como se deu a participação do governo do Acre no processo de implantação da universidade?

    Almeida: O grupo de trabalho articulado em 2003 foi se encaminhando para criar um projeto que, em 2005, depois de muitos trâmites, finalmente teve um sinal verde do Ministério da Educação para se viabilizar. O ministro Tarso Genro prometeu liberar a contratação de 90 professores, dos quais 50 seriam para a Universidade Federal do Acre. Quarenta desses professores seriam destinados imediatamente para uma unidade autônoma, o campus Cruzeiro do Sul, e seriam seguidos por outros tantos num futuro próximo.

    O então governador do Estado, Jorge Viana, se comprometia com investimentos na infraestrutura, na conclusão de estradas e na via telefônica. E o Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia, com investimentos para recursos em pesquisa e equipamento de laboratório. A Universidade da Floresta começou, então, a ser implantada em 2005, contratando por concurso público um pessoal científico do mais alto nível e de várias universidades do Brasil: ecólogos, biólogos moleculares, enfermeiros, engenheiros florestais etc.

    Um dos objetivos do governo era garantir que a universidade agisse junto com a população que não estava matriculada nos cursos acadêmicos, mas que manifestava demanda pela formação profissional nas mais diversas áreas. Essa formação seria dada, então, através das chamadas escolas da floresta, pólos de formação, espalhando-se ao mesmo tempo na cidade de Cruzeiro do Sul e dentro da floresta, por meio, por exemplo, de unidades fluviais itinerantes, os chamados “barcos-escola”.
    Quais as expectativas das populações indígenas da região diante da proposta da Universidade da Floresta? Em que medida essa proposta se vê articulada às demandas já existentes de um curso superior diferenciado?

    Almeida: Há indígenas ingressando na Universidade da Floresta, pois muitos deles possuem o curso médio completo. Mas os índios da região têm uma antiga reivindicação, que é a criação de um terceiro grau indígena, voltado para a formação em nível superior dos professores indígenas. Esses professores estão atuando há muitos anos em escolas organizadas por várias entidades indígenas, indigenistas e do governo; a principal delas é a ONG Comissão Pró-Índio do Acre (CPI). Uma estratégia possível seria que as escolas bilíngües e o treinamento de professores nativos adquirissem status de curso superior.

    Outra idéia é a criação de um curso superior indígena para formar não apenas professores, mas também especialistas em manejo florestal, em línguas indígenas etc., dentro da universidade. E o setor de línguas e pedagogia da Universidade da Floresta já apresentou uma proposta nesse sentido. Então, há o caminho de cursos específicos para índios, com uma direção principal de formação de professores indígenas com especializações em manejo florestal e em línguas indígenas.

    O modelo são os cursos para índios que funcionam atualmente no Mato Grosso e em Rondônia. Mas o conceito da Universidade da Floresta é, de fato, mais amplo, podendo combinar-se ao anterior: trata-se de produzir um estímulo para a entrada dos índios que passariam a fazer os mesmos cursos que os demais. Uma das questões que devem ser enfrentadas é, portanto, como propiciar essa entrada.
    Há algum sistema que favoreça a inclusão de alunos indígenas, como um sistema de cotas, por exemplo?

    Almeida: Não tem. Isso é um assunto em discussão. Eu pessoalmente sou favorável a algum sistema que permita a inclusão. Haveria um conjunto de vagas para indígenas, e esse curso superior indígena poderia ser articulado com os outros. E só pensar que há um conjunto de vagas, à parte, reservadas para uma certa demanda social. No futuro, poderia haver um grande número de alunos indígenas entrando nesse sistema com bolsas de estudos, sendo estimulados com a inclusão e fazendo os mesmos cursos que os não-indígenas, e não cursos especiais separados para os índios.

    Eu acho que seria o que eles próprios gostariam. Por exemplo, aqueles que vão ser professores especializados em línguas estariam fazendo o curso de línguas da Universidade da Floresta. O curso de letras já existe, só que agora está recebendo uma injeção de novos professores, com lingüistas competentes contratados recentemente e que trabalham com as línguas indígenas da região.

    Seria importante fortalecer a idéia de que a formação dos indígenas deve incluir no currículo as línguas e os conhecimentos locais. É preciso evitar que os professores indígenas, que se formaram numa trajetória educacional ligada ao povo deles, caiam num tipo de formação que os reduza a pessoas desgarradas, como se elas fossem carentes de conhecimentos relacionados, por exemplo, à tecnologia florestal.
    Como se dá a inclusão da população local na figura de pesquisadores? Qual é a concepção de pesquisa implicada na proposta da Universidade da Floresta e em seu trabalho conjunto com outros órgãos, como o Instituto da Biodiversidade?

    Almeida: O projeto da Universidade da Floresta não pode ser dissociado da criação do Instituto da Biodiversidade. Através dele, o Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia canaliza recursos para pesquisas de caráter aplicado, tendo em vista os desafios da região e a participação de pessoas da população local como pesquisadores, muitas vezes bolsistas. Na verdade, o Instituto da Biodiversidade está funcionando de maneira ainda virtual. Ele conta com uma espécie de portfólio de projetos, financiados atualmente pelo Programa de Pesquisa em Biodiversidade.

    Dentre esses projetos, há uma certa liberdade para especificar qual será a participação dos professores, dos pesquisadores, indígenas e seringueiros. Há alguns projetos, em que a maior parte de seus recursos é investida em bolsas para seringueiros. São bolsas muito baixas.

    Na verdade, são estímulos para uma dedicação parcial em uma pesquisa colaborativa. A atividade principal dos seringueiros é escrever diários com temas variados, por exemplo, a fauna e o uso dela na forma de caça. Muitas vezes, esses seringueiros, que podem ser adultos ou adolescentes, estão em processo de alfabetização, entrando em contato com a técnica da escrita. O status dos seringueiros no Instituto da Biodiversidade é o de “pesquisadores da floresta”.

    Nos cursos que a escola da floresta vai realizar na área, eles vão participar como alunos e, alguns, talvez, como professores. Por exemplo, um curso que já ocorreu em 2005, antes da instalação da Universidade da Floresta, tratava da tecnologia do processamento da mandioca para fazer a famosa farinha.

    O Instituto da Biodiversidade tem como objetivo gerar conhecimento científico, oferecendo uma visão ampla sobre a floresta. Ele deverá fomentar oficinas, seminários e debates sobre os resultados da pesquisa, assim como publicações dos resultados, tanto em livros e manuais, mais acessíveis para as populações de lá, quanto em revistas científicas. Isso, aliás, já tem acontecido. Alguns desses pesquisadores locais já são co-autores em publicações científicas. O objetivo é tratar índios e seringueiros em pé de igualdade. É um objetivo difícil de atingir, pois tem muita resistência nesse sentido.
    Como superar essas resistências? Em que medida essa simetria de saberes está sendo reconhecida e instituída?

    Almeida: Nas instituições nacionais financiadoras de pesquisa não há uma maneira de incluir o indígena como pesquisador. É possível incluí-lo apenas como mão-de-obra de pesquisa, como auxiliar de campo, como guia. É possível remunerá-lo como técnico. Mas não existe uma categoria de pesquisador de notório saber ou de pesquisador tradicional como nós gostaríamos. Agora, é lutar para que a atividade de produção de conhecimento seja reconhecida como uma atividade de pesquisa, análoga à dos cientistas.

    É muito freqüente que pesquisadores das áreas de biologia, antropologia ou outras sejam acompanhados em seu trabalho de campo por um guia local. Mas este aparece no mais das vezes como um trabalhador braçal, quando, em muitos casos, é um profundo conhecedor da floresta. Conhece as propriedades daquelas plantas, os hábitos daqueles animais, dá pistas, dicas e indicações. Atua como um verdadeiro colaborador. Ele é dono de um largo conhecimento, que vem sendo filtrado, utilizado e processado, mas que perde a autoria original.

    Então, a nossa idéia é que seja possível produzir um trabalho com autoria, fazendo com que eles passem a escrever os seus próprios trabalhos em formatos que sejam melhores para eles. Pode não ser um formato tradicional, pode ser divulgado numa página da internet, pode ser um desenho, uma narrativa gravada.
    A divulgação dos resultados de pesquisas como essas exige providências relativas à proteção dos conhecimentos tradicionais. Afinal, eles se tornam mais expostos para o uso comercial e privado. Como equacionar, então, a atividade de pesquisa e as políticas de proteção?

    Almeida: Não se trata, é claro, de colocar em domínio público uma série de conhecimentos, embora a forma tradicional de transmissão desses conhecimentos corresponda a um uso bastante livre. A idéia é combinar pesquisa e políticas de proteção desses conhecimentos, que possuem um forte potencial econômico. O que não podemos fazer é entregar o ouro aos bandidos…

    Há um projeto, incentivado por Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, de montar na Universidade da Floresta uma “extratoteca”, um repositório de extratos vegetais e animais, produtos com valor econômico potencial muito alto, juntamente com um laboratório para análise desse material. Ali, os índios trabalhariam em cooperação com os cientistas. Trata-se de um laboratório capaz de realizar análises biotecnológicas, e um dos focos possíveis seria criar uma “biblioteca” de moléculas identificadas nas secreções de animais e vegetais.

    Seria possível, em princípio, identificar, registrar e, em alguns casos, gerar uma patente sobre processos biotecnológicos em benéfico das populações locais, impedindo, por exemplo, que o valor associado a isso seja apropriado. Vou citar o exemplo dos sapos, que representam um dos maiores índices de biodiversidade na região. Só em duas áreas, o Parque Nacional da Serra do Divisor e a Reserva Extrativista do Alto Juruá, foram detectadas 140 espécies de sapos. Cada uma delas é um armazém de substâncias distintas dotadas de propriedades específicas, e um dos exemplos são os sapos da espécie Philomedusa bicolor, mais conhecidos como sapos kampo, cuja secreção tem inúmeras propriedades relevantes para a saúde humana.

    Um projeto, atualmente conduzido pelo Ministério do Meio Ambiente, por iniciativa da ministra Marina Silva, pretende atender a reivindicações de proteção do uso tradicional da chamada vacina do sapo kampo e também dos direitos e potenciais sobre aplicações médicas dessa substância. Esse projeto surgiu em resposta à demanda dos índios Katukina. A discussão está sendo conduzida pelos próprios índios, junto com as entidades externas que estão colaborando no projeto, ou seja, as universidades e o próprio governo.
    Você pensa que a proposta de inclusão de pajés e mestres da floresta no ambiente da Universidade da Floresta criou ou pode criar certa resistência ou mesmo “ciúmes” por parte dos pesquisadores e cientistas? Como você avalia o diálogo estabelecido entre esses diferentes agentes?

    Almeida: Houve mesmo esse medo. Mas acho que o susto de certos cientistas com a idéia de que os pajés entrariam na Universidade da Floresta para dar aula se deve a um mal-entendido. O ideal dessa universidade é a criação de um espaço que tem como meta tratar simetricamente -com equivalência e com o respeito mútuo- os conhecimentos tradicionais e os conhecimentos científicos e acadêmicos.

    Devem ser considerados ao mesmo tempo a atividade de produção de saber pelos moradores da floresta e o próprio espaço acadêmico como outro espaço de produção do conhecimento. Tanto os índios como os moradores tradicionais da floresta precisam de um tempo para estabelecer um relacionamento entre os conhecimentos que eles acumularam e a visão do mundo que eles encontram na cidade ou entre os cientistas.

    Os cientistas, por sua vez, precisam de um tempo para entender e respeitar o ponto de vista dos moradores da floresta. Esse tipo de diálogo entre pesquisadores científicos e detentores de conhecimentos tradicionais é complicado. Mas, gradualmente, pode surgir uma convivência pacífica entre essas duas tradições. Isso não significa um se colocar no lugar do outro, ou misturar as duas formas de gerar e usar conhecimento. Não, os conhecimentos possuem teores diferentes, finalidades distintas e procedimentos também diferenciados.

    É preciso entender, por outro lado, que há espaço para cada um deles e pode se estabelecer, sim, um diálogo. É possível, para cada um dos lados, vislumbrar uma maneira diferente de abordar o significado da vida humana, da natureza, das técnicas corporais, da saúde. Em países como a China, por exemplo, nos cursos universitários-acadêmicos de formação de médicos, a tradição ocidental e a medicina chinesa convivem de uma maneira bastante produtiva. Para chegar a um ponto em que o pajé indígena seja aceito como professor convidado ou como um sábio da floresta que tem um status reconhecido é preciso de muito tempo.

    Uma impressão inicial foi a de que essa Universidade da Floresta talvez fosse misturar tudo, provocando uma inversão, uma espécie de anulação de todas as certezas do saber científico. Em vez disso, penso que é preciso um esforço para permitir que, dentro da universidade, possa se estabelecer um bom convívio com alunos e mesmo professores que saíram de outras tradições e possuem conhecimentos diversos daquele produzido pela nossa ciência. Isso não significa anular a especialização já existente.

    Uma maneira de fazer essa aproximação importante entre os diferentes tipos de conhecimento é exatamente através da pesquisa. E aí o Instituto da Biodiversidade entra com seus projetos autônomos. Porque lá o pesquisador e os alunos -que estão na universidade- vão a campo fazer atividade de pesquisa e passarão a conviver com aqueles que eu tenho chamado de “mestres da floresta”. A idéia é que os alunos aprendam, na prática, a respeitar os conhecimentos adquiridos em outras fontes. Há uma série de curadores tradicionais que exercem uma atividade terapêutica reconhecida regionalmente como válida. Em suma, a idéia é de pluralismo epistemológico -reconhecer a diversidade de modos de gerar conhecimentos relevantes para a humanidade.
    Quais as expectativas desses mestres da floresta em relação à universidade?

    Almeida: Uma das demandas é que a universidade seja uma ponte para que os conhecimentos e os produtos produzidos na floresta -por exemplo, substâncias atualmente classificadas como “fitoterápicas”- possam chegar às prateleiras dos brancos e serem enfim reconhecidas e comercializadas como remédios. Atualmente essa transição é muito trabalhosa e fora do alcance de moradores locais. Os índios fazem pressão também para que a Universidade da Floresta seja respeitosa com seu saber e suas formas de vida, e assim leve a sociedade a respeitá-las. Mas os indígenas e seringueiros também querem aprender coisas que não sabem.

    O desafio da Universidade da Floresta está, então, em articular cientistas e moradores da floresta, a fim de conhecer e utilizar sensatamente a biodiversidade, impedir o seu uso predatório, o seu saque. Trata-se de fazer face a uma pressão, como a do mercado biotecnológico, por substâncias da floresta. Mas como fazer? Quem vai pesquisar os conhecimentos da floresta? Quem vai articular essas ricas tradições de conhecimento com a realidade do mundo moderno?

    É preciso formar pessoas lá mesmo para refletir sobre essas questões e encontrar respostas. E é preciso colocar os próprios índios e moradores da mata dentro dessa formação para que eles, juntos, encontrem essa solução. Eu não tenho essa solução e nem pretendo ter. A idéia dos cientistas se instalarem naquele “fim do mundo” funcionou, e a equipe que foi contratada lá é muito competente. Para ir para lá, é preciso agir movido por um ideal. Eu estou muito entusiasmado com esse grupo. Eu tenho certeza que eles irão interagir com o povo da região. Já estão interagindo.
    Como trazer para uma universidade a idéia de diferença, de pluralidade? Em que medida o igualitarismo e o universalismo buscados nesses espaços podem abrigar o reconhecimento e a valorização das diferenças?

    Almeida: Não podemos ficar de salto alto e dizer: “A universidade, quem quiser que entre, faça o vestibular, pois não existe diferença”. Existe diferença, sim, e as pessoas têm de ser reconhecidas, inclusive, na diferença em relação à sua competência, como sábios que geram conhecimento importante sobre a vida e, portanto, podem oferecer uma importante contribuição para a nossa sociedade.

    As pessoas mantêm as suas identidades próprias, adquirem auto-respeito, passam por cima do que fizeram com elas no passado. E nós temos de tratá-las também com respeito. Isso tem de ser incluído na academia. A igualdade é, na verdade, o reconhecimento das diferenças. Se queremos garantir a igualdade de todos no acesso à universidade, uma das primeiras coisas que temos de fazer é tratar diferentemente as pessoas.

    Um deficiente físico que precisa de uma cadeira de rodas não pode ser tratado da mesma maneira que aquela pessoa que não necessita de uma cadeira de rodas. Ele está sendo tratado desigualmente para garantir um acesso igual ao saber. O cego que entrar na universidade vai precisar de um livro especial. Os exemplos podem ser multiplicados. Não há novidade alguma nisso. O ideal de igualdade deve ser o reconhecimento da diversidade. Eu penso que isso é algo muito importante num país como o Brasil.
    (Publicado em 7/4/2007)

    .

    Renato Sztutman
    É professor de antropologia da Unifesp (Universidade Federal de São Paulo), doutor em antropologia pela USP e co-editor da revista “Sexta-Feira”.

    Blessed Are the Climate Advocates (Slate)

    The Vatican and United Nations present the beatitudes of a new movement.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after a press conference during the a climate change conference organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican on April 28, 2015

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after a press conference during a climate change meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican on April 28, 2015. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

    This week, while at Vatican City in Rome to manage press for the first-ever meeting on climate change between Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, my faith in a force more powerful was renewed. I am not religious, despite being descended from a long line of Amish and Mennonite preachers. But at the climate confab, I became a believer again. And I wasn’t alone.

    It wasn’t my faith in God that was renewed at the Vatican but rather a faith in our ability to get something done on climate change. And as an American, whose Congress isn’t even close to acting aggressively or quickly enough on climate change, that’s saying something. Even the Pope’s and the U.N.’s top policy officials were clearly inspired by the event, which was hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Throughout the day I witnessed multiple about-faces of previously cynical staff rapidly turning toward optimism.

    This Vatican moment was a game-changer. Science and religion were forcefully and unwaveringly aligning. Tuesday’s high-level session brought together multiple presidents, CEOs, academics, scientists, and all the major religions, and ended with this final, forceful statement. The event was a prelude to the Pope’s summer encyclical on climate change, and it laid a solid foundation.

    But more importantly—and this is why it instilled faith in many of us—the meeting featured some of the strongest words yet from the Vatican’s Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope’s right-hand policy man and the drafter of the first round of what will eventually be the Pope’s climate encyclical, and from the U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon.

    Beyond the expected shout-outs to the upcoming climate talks in Paris later this year and to the need for a strong Green Climate Fund, which will assist developing countries in climate adaptation, the U.N.’s Ban noted in no uncertain terms how “morally indefensible” it would be to allow a temperature rise of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius, calling on everyone to reduce their individual carbon footprint and thoughtless consumption. His pitch was more pointed than I had heard before. One of the leading rabbis, Rabbi David Rosen, took it one step further, calling out meat-intensive diets as completely unsustainable given their massive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

    The Vatican’s Turkson, meanwhile, pulled out all the stops, saying that “a crime against the natural world is a sin,” and “to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation … are sins.” Turkson warned about how quickly we are degrading the planet’s integrity, stripping its forests, destroying its wetlands, and contaminating its waters, land, and air.

    These declarations were not soft, feel-good, and vague speeches by politicos keen to be perceived as leading on the most urgent issue facing humanity. These were unequivocal, unwavering statements: “Decision mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity” and the “summit in Paris may be the last effective opportunity” to keep the planet safe.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the climate change conference at the Vatican on April 28, 2015

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the climate change conference at the Vatican on April 28, 2015. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

    The leaders of the conference were undeterred by the hecklers who crept onto the Vatican campus. Marc Morano, for example, who is associated with the climate-skeptical Heartland Institute, snuck into the Vatican and attempted, to no avail, to disrupt the press briefing with the U.N. secretary-general while Ban was reporting on his meeting with the Pope. Morano’s account of what happened, that he was maliciously shut down after offering a benign question, misrepresents reality. Standing beside him, I can attest to what was instead a hijacking of protocol and the microphone. He said a few words about “global warming skeptics coming to talk” but coming to disrupt would be more accurate. He interrupted the secretary-general and the moderator, and was later escorted from the premises by Vatican officials.

    What’s troubling about moments like this is that they work. The U.S. media reporting from the Vatican meeting felt compelled to give Morano critical space in their stories. It’s not just that he was an unexpected and therefore newsworthy interruption—giving his “side” is part of American broadcast media’s history of false balance even when there are not two legitimate sides of a story to balance. To be clear, the verdict is not still out on climate change. There’s overwhelming consensus when it comes to the science behind global warming, yet some media outlets (fewer all the time, fortunately) continue to give voice to the small percent that disagrees. Standing beside Morano, surrounded by representatives of the most powerful institutions in the world, it was quite clear to me that the Heartland Institute, though well funded by the Koch brothers, is ineffectually extreme and ultimately a minority player in society’s overall push toward climate progress.

    In many ways, the Heartland emissaries proved, through their apoplectic protest, how peripheral they were to the whole process. There was no need for anyone to fight them in that moment; the majority opinion, the moral call to act on climate, was already winning the day. The global response to our conversation at the Vatican has been unequivocally positive, with every major outlet in the Western world covering the talks favorably.

    As we left Vatican City this week—which is carbon-neutral thanks to solar power—there was a palpable sense that history was made within the walls of Casina Pio IV where our deliberations took place. This was no typical conference. This was a Sermon on the Mount moment, wherein the beatitudes of a new era were laid down. And we left as disciples, renewed in our faith that we must and will act in time to save humanity from itself—an agenda that would be a worthy legacy of the Pope’s Jesus.

    The Anthropocene as Fetishism (Mediations)

    Daniel Cunha

    “A society that is always sicker, but always stronger, has everywhere concretely re-created the world as the environment and decor of its illness, a sick planet.”1

    The “Anthropocene” has become a fashionable concept in the natural and social sciences.2 It is defined as the “human-dominated geologic epoch,” because in this period of natural history it is Man who is in control of the biogeochemical cycles of the planet.3The result, though, is catastrophic: the disruption of the carbon cycle, for example, leads to a global warming that approaches tipping points that might be irreversible.4 The exponential growth of our freedom and power, that is, of our ability to transform nature, is now translated into a limitation to our freedom, including the destabilization of the very framework of life. It reaches its highest degree with the problem of global warming.5 In this context, it becomes clear that the Anthropocene is a contradictory concept. If the “human-dominated geologic epoch” is leading to a situation in which the existence of humans might be at stake, there is something very problematic with this sort of domination of Nature that reduces it to a “substrate of domination” that should be investigated.6 Its very basic premise, that it is human-dominated, should be challenged — after all there should be something inhuman or objectified in a sort of domination whose outcome might be human extinction.

    What is claimed here is that, exactly as for freedom, the Anthropocene is an unfulfilled promise. The same way that freedom in capitalism is constrained by fetishism and class relations — capitalist dynamics are law-bound and beyond the control of individuals; the workers are “free” in the sense that they are not “owned” as slaves, but also in the sense that they are “free” from the means of production, they are deprived of their conditions of existence; the capitalists are “free” insofar as they follow the objectified rules of capital accumulation, otherwise they go bankrupt — so is the social metabolism with Nature. Therefore, I claim that the Anthropocene is the fetishized form of interchange between Man and Nature historically specific to capitalism, the same way as the “invisible hand” is the fetishized form of “freedom” of interchange between men.

    Since primitive accumulation, capital caused a metabolic rift between Man and Nature. It was empirically observable at least since the impoverishment of soils caused by the separation between city and countryside in nineteenth-century Great Britain.7 In the twenty-first century, though, this rift is globalized, including critical disruptions of the carbon cycle (global warming), the nitrogen cycle, and the rate of biodiversity loss that implies that humanity is already outside of a “safe operating space” of global environmental conditions.8 The Anthropocene, appears, then, as the globalized disruption of global natural cycles — and, most importantly, not as a (for whatever reason) planned, intentional, and controlled disruption, but as an unintended side effect of social metabolism with Nature that seems to be progressively out of control. It can easily be illustrated with examples. In the case of the carbon cycle, the burning of fossil fuels is carried out as an energy source for industrial and transport systems. Massive coal extraction began in England during the Industrial Revolution so that, with this new mobile energy source, industries could move from near dams to the cities where cheap labor was.9

    There was no intention to manipulate the carbon cycle or to cause global warming, or any consciousness of it. The result, though, is that, in the twenty-first century, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is already beyond the safe boundary of 350 ppm for long-term human development. As for the nitrogen cycle, it was disrupted by the industrialization of agriculture and fertilizer production, including the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen with the Haber-Bosch process. Again, there was no intention or plan to control the nitrogen cycle, to cause eutrophication of lakes, or to induce the collapse of ecosystems. Once again, the boundary of sixty-two million tons of nitrogen removed from the atmosphere per year is by far already surpassed, with 150 million tons in 2014.10 A similar story could be told about the rate of biodiversity loss, and the phosphorous cycle and ocean acidification are following the same pattern. The “human-dominated” geologic epoch, in this regard, seems much more a product of chance and unconsciousness than of a proper control of the global material cycles, in spite of Crutzen’s reference to Vernadsky’s and Chardin’s “increasing consciousness and thought” and “world of thought” (noösphere). “They do not know it, but they do it” — this is what Marx said about the fetishized social activity mediated by commodities, and this is the key to a critical understanding of the Anthropocene.11

    In fact, Crutzen locates the beginning of the Anthropocene in the design of the steam engine during the Industrial Revolution.12 However, instead of seeing it as a mere empirical observation, the determinants of the “human-dominated” geologic epoch should be conceptually investigated in the capitalist form of social relations. With his analysis of fetishism, Marx showed that capitalism is a social formation in which there is a prevalence of “material relations between persons and social relations between things,” in which “the circulation of money as capital is an end in itself.”13 Capital is the inversion where exchange value directs use, abstract labor directs concrete labor: a social formation in which the process of production has mastery over man, instead of the opposite,” and its circulation as money and commodities for the sake of accumulation constitutes the “automatic subject,” “self-valorizing value.”14 Locating the Anthropocene in capitalism, therefore, implies an investigation into the relation between the Anthropocene and alienation, or, as further developed by the late Marx, fetishism.15 This is the core of the contradictions of the “human-dominated” geologic epoch. According to Marx, the labor-mediated form of social relations of capitalism acquires a life of its own, independent of the individuals that participate in its constitution, developing into a sort of objective system over and against individuals, and increasingly determines the goals and means of human activity. Alienated labor constitutes a social structure of abstract domination that alienates social ties, in which “starting out as the condottiere of use value, exchange value ended up waging a war that was entirely its own.”16 This structure, though, does not appear to be socially constituted, but natural.17 Value, whose phenomenic form of appearance is money, becomes in itself a form of social organization, a perverted community. This is the opposite of what could be called “social control.”18 A system that becomes quasi-automatic, beyond the conscious control of those involved, and is driven by the compulsion of limitless accumulation as an end-in-itself, necessarily has as a consequence the disruption of the material cycles of the Earth. Calling this “Anthropocene,” though, is clearly imprecise, on one hand, because it is the outcome of a historically specific form of metabolism with Nature, and not of a generic ontological being (antropo), and, on the other hand, because capitalism constitutes a “domination without subject,” that is, in which the subject is not Man (not even a ruling class), but capital.19

    It is important to note that fetishism is not a mere illusion that should be deciphered, so that the “real” class and environmental exploitation could be grasped. As Marx himself pointed out, “to the producers…the social relations between their private labors appear as what they are, i.e., as material relations between persons and social relations between things”; “commodity fetishism…is not located in our minds, in the way we (mis)perceive reality, but in our social reality itself.”20 That is why not even all scientific evidence of the ecological disruption, always collected post festum, is able to stop the destructive dynamic of capital, showing to a caricatural degree the uselessness of knowledge without use.21The fact that now “they know very well what they are doing, yet they are doing it” does not refute, but rather confirms that the form of social relations is beyond social control, and merely changing the name of the “Anthropocene” (to “Capitolocene” or whatever) would not solve the underlying social and material contradictions.22 Value-directed social production, that is, production determined by the minimization of socially necessary labor time, results in an objectified mode of material production and social life that can be described by “objective” laws. Time, space, and technology are objectified by the law of value. Of course the agents of the “valorization of value” are human beings, but they perform their social activity as “character [masks],” “personifications of economic relations”: the capitalist is personified capital and the worker is personified labor.23 The fetishistic, self-referential valorization of value through the exploitation of labor (M-C-M’) with its characteristics of limitless expansion and abstraction of material content implies the ecologically disruptive character of capitalism, that is, that in capitalism “the development of productive forces is simultaneously the development of destructive forces.”24 Self-expanding value creates an “industrial snowball system” that is not consciously controlled, “a force independent of any human volition.”25 In this context, it is not a surprise that the disruption of global ecological cycles is presented as the “Anthropocene,” that is, as a concept allusive to a natural process. That Man is presented as a blind geologic force, such as volcanic eruptions or variations in solar radiation, is an expression of the naturalized or fetishized form of social relations that is prevalent in capitalism.

    Therefore, the technical structures with which Man carries out its metabolism with Nature is logically marked by fetishism. As Marx noted, “technology reveals the active relation of man to nature, the direct process of the production of his life, and thereby it also lays bare the process of the production of the social relations of his life, and of the mental conceptions that flow from those relations.”29 In capitalism, production processes are not designed according to the desires and needs of the producers, ecological or social considerations, but according to the law of value. Taking as an example the world energy systems, it has been demonstrated that there is no technical constraint to a complete solar transition in two or three decades if we consider the use-value of fossil and renewable energies (their energy return and material requirements), that is, it is technically feasible to use fossil energy to build a solar infrastructure to provide world energy in a quantity and quality sufficient for human development.27 This transition, which from the point of view of use-value or material wealth is desirable, necessary, and urgent (due to global warming) is not being carried out, though, because fossil energy is still more prone to capital accumulation, to the valorization of value: capital went to China to exploit cheap labor and cheap coal, causing a strong spike in carbon emissions on the eve of a climate emergency, in a clear display of fetishistic irrationality.28 More generally, the American ecologist Barry Commoner showed that in the twentieth century many synthetic products were developed (such as plastics and fertilizers) that took the place of natural and biodegradable products. However, the new products were not better than the old ones; the transition was only carried out because it was more lucrative to produce them, although they were much more polluting and environmentally harmful — in fact it is shown that these new technologies were the main factor for the increase of pollution in the United States, more than the increase in population or consumption.26

    Of course the law of value does not determine only the final products, but also the production processes, which must be constantly intensified both in terms of rhythms and material efficiency, if not in terms of the extension of the working day. Already, in his day, Marx highlighted the “fanaticism that the capitalist shows for economizing on means of production” as they seek the “refuse of production” for reuse and recycling.30 However, under the capitalist form of social production, productivity gains result in a smaller amount of value created per material unit, so that it fosters enlarged material consumption.31 This general tendency is empirically observable in the so-called Jevons Paradox, when efficiency gains eventually result in a rebound effect, increased material production.32 It was first shown by William Stanley Jevons, who presented data that demonstrate that the economy of coal in steam engines during the Industrial Revolution resulted in increased coal consumption.33 What in a conscious social production would be ecologically beneficial (increased efficiency in resource use), in capitalism increases relative surplus-value, and therefore reinforces the destructive limitless accumulation of capital and a technological system that is inappropriate in the first place. It is astonishing that many environmentalists still preach efficiency as an ecological fix, without noticing that the capitalist social form of wealth (value) turns productivity into a destructive force.

    Even the way capitalism deals with the problem of pollution is configured by alienation: everything can be discussed, but the mode of production based on commodification and maximization of profits. As production is carried out in competing isolated private production units, socio-technical control is limited to external control, through state regulations that enforce end-of-pipe technologies and market mechanisms. The Kyoto Protocol is the best example of market mechanism. It represents the commodification of the carbon cycle, establishing the equivalence principle, the very form of commodity fetishism, in a sort of stock exchange of carbon. Therefore, it implies a whole process of abstraction of ecological, social, and material qualities to make possible the equivalence of carbon emissions, offsets, and carbon sinks located in very different ecological and social contexts. The abstraction process includes the equalization of emission reductions in different social and ecological contexts, of emissions reductions carried out with different technologies, of carbon of fossil origin and biotic origin, the equalization of different molecules through the concept of “carbon equivalent” and a definition of “forest” that does not include any requirement of biodiversity.34

    However, as with any commodity in capitalism, use-value (carbon emissions reductions) is governed by exchange-value. The fetishistic inversion of use-value and exchange-value that characterizes capitalism implies that the effective goal of the whole process of emissions trading comes to be money, not emissions reduction. Empirical examples abound. The trading scheme does not present any incentive for long-term technology transition, but only for short-term financial earnings (time is money). Offsets in practice allow polluters to postpone a technological transition, while the corresponding Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project probably generates a rebound effect that will foster fossil fuel deployment in developing countries.35 Easy technological reductions, such as burning methane in landfills, allow the continuation of carbon emissions by big corporations. Some industries earned more profits mitigating emissions of HFC-23 than with the commodities they produced, while generating huge amounts of offsets that again allow polluters to keep up with their emissions.36 And the comparison of projects with baseline “would be” scenarios even tragically allows the direct increase of emissions, for example, by financing coal mines that mitigate methane emissions. And more examples could be cited. The fact that global warming is determined by cumulative emissions in any meaningful human time-scale reveals the perverse effects of this exchange-value−driven scheme: delays in emissions reductions today constrain the possibilities of the future.37Again, as could be grasped beforehand with a simple theoretical Marxian critique, exchange-value becomes dominant over use-value, as the allocation of carbon emissions is determined not by socio-ecological criteria, but according to the valorization requirements or by “the optimized allocation of resources” — when the global carbon market hit the record market value of 176 billion dollars in 2011, the World Bank said that “a considerable portion of the trades is primarily motivated by hedging, portfolio adjustments, profit taking, and arbitrage,” typical jargon of financial speculators.38 Kyoto, with its quantitative approach, does not address, and hampers, the qualitative transition that is necessary to avoid a catastrophic climate change, that is, the solar transition. Even though substantial amounts of capital are mobilized with the trading schemes, global carbon emissions continue to increase.

    In this scenario, it is increasingly likely that the application of an end-of-pipe technology might be necessary. With the rise of the Welfare State and ecological regulation, a myriad of such technologies were used to mitigate industrial emissions to water, air, and soil — air filters, wastewater treatment plants, etc. The problem is that these technologies can only be applied in particular corporate units if it is feasible in the context of value-driven production, that is, only if it does not jeopardize the profitability of corporations. It happens, though, that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is still too expensive to be used in production units or transport systems. Therefore, what comes to the fore is geoengineering, the ultimate end-of-pipe technology, the technological mitigation of the effects of carbon emissions on a planetary scale, the direct manipulation of world climate itself — with the use of processes such as the emission of aerosols to the stratosphere to reflect solar radiation, or the fertilization of oceans with iron to induce the growth of carbon-sequestering algae.39 Its origins can be traced back to the Vietnam War and Stalinist projects, and one of its first proponents was Edward Teller, the father of the atomic bomb.40 There are huge risks involved in this approach, as the climate system and its subsystems are not fully understood and are subject to non-linearities, tipping points, sudden transitions, and chaos. Besides, climate system inertia implies that global warming is irreversible in the time scale of a millennium, so that such geoengineering techniques would have to be applied for an equal amount of time, what would be a burden for dozens of future generations.41 In case of technological failure of the application of geoengineering, the outcome could be catastrophic, with a sudden climate change.42

    Considering its relatively low cost, though, it is likely that capitalism assumes the risk of business as usual in order to preserve its fetishistic quest for profits, keeping geoengineering as a sort of silver bullet of global warming.43 Of course there is the frightening possibility of combining geoengineering and trading schemes, so that geoengineering projects could generate carbon credits in a competitive market. That was the idea of Planktos Inc. in a controversial experiment of ocean fertilization, that alludes to a dystopian future in which world climate is manipulated according to the interests of corporate profits.44 It is clear that capitalist control of pollution, either through market mechanisms or state regulations, resembles the Hegelian Minerva’s Owl: it only (re)acts after the alienated process of production and the general process of social alienation. However, if the core of destructiveness is the fetishistic process itself that is reproduced by trading schemes, and end-of-pipe technologies are subject to failure and complex dynamics that are not rationally accessible to the time scales of human institutions (at least in their current forms), both market and state mechanisms might fail in avoiding a catastrophic climate change.

    Future projections of global warming by neoclassical economists reveal the alienated core of the Anthropocene in its very essence. In integrated climate-economic models such as the ones developed by William Nordhaus and Nicholas Stern, the interest rate ultimately determines what is acceptable in terms of atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and its related impacts (coastal inundations, biodiversity loss, agricultural disruption, epidemic outbreaks, etc.), as “cost-benefit analyses” discount future impacts and compound present earnings.45 But as shown by Marx, the interest is the part of the profit that the industrial capitalist pays to the financial capitalist that lent him money-capital in the first place, after the successful valorization process.46 Interest-bearing capital is value that possesses the use-value of creating surplus-value or profit. Therefore, “in interest-bearing capital the capital relationship reaches its most superficial and fetishized form,” “money that produces money,” “self-valorizing value.”47 Interest-bearing capital is the perfect fetishistic representation of capital, as the automatic geometric progression of surplus-value production, a “pure automaton.”48Correspondingly, the determination of future social metabolism with Nature by the interest rate is the ultimate expression of the fetishistic character of this historical form of social metabolism with Nature, that is, of the fetishistic core of the so-called Anthropocene, no matter the magnitude of the interest rate. In capitalism the interest rate is determinant of investments and allocation of resources, and overcoming this is not a matter of moralistically (and irrealistically) using a lower magnitude for the interest rate as Stern does, but of overcoming the capitalist mode of production itself.49

    Future scenarios determined by the interest rate ultimately negate history, since only in capitalism the interest rate is socially determining, as it is capital in its purest form. While in capitalism interest-bearing capital becomes totally adapted to the conditions of capitalist production, and fosters it with the development of the credit system, in pre-capitalist social formations, “usury impoverishes the mode of production, cripples the productive forces.”50This is so because in capitalism credit is given in the expectation that it will function as capital, that the borrowed capital will be used to valorize value, to appropriate unpaid “free” labor, while in the Middle Ages the usurer exploited petty producers and peasants working for themselves.51 The determination of future social metabolic relation with Nature by the interest rate is thus an extrapolation of the capitalist mode of production and all of its categories (value, surplus-value, abstract labor, etc.) into the future, the fetishization of history — again, this is in line with the term Anthropocene, that makes reference to an ahistorical Man.

    Besides, the sort of cost-benefit analysis that Nordhaus and Stern carry out tends to negate not only history, but matter itself, as the trade-off of the degradation of material resources with the abstract growth implies the absolute exchangeability between different material resources, and hence between abstract wealth (capital) and material wealth, which in practice is a false assumption. For example, the most basic natural synthetic process necessary for life as we know on Earth, photosynthesis, is not technologically substitutable, that is, no amount of exchange-value could replace it.52 Besides, synthesizing the complex interactions and material and energy fluxes that constitute ecosystems of different characteristics and scales, with their own path-dependent natural histories, is not at all a trivial task — material interactions and specificity are exactly what exchange-value abstracts from. What this sort of analysis takes for granted is commodity-form itself, with its common substance (value) that allows the exchange between different material resources in definite amounts, detached from their material and ecological contexts. But it is this very detachment or abstraction that leads to destructiveness. “The dream implied by the capital form is one of utter boundlessness, a fantasy of freedom as the complete liberation from matter, from nature. This ‘dream of capital’ is becoming the nightmare of that from which it strives to free itself — the planet and its inhabitants.”53

    Last but not least, capital is also trying to increase its profits exploiting the very anxiety caused by the prospect of the ecological catastrophe, as an extension of the production of subjectivity by the culture industry.54 For example, Starbucks cafés offer their customers a coffee that is a bit more expensive, but claim that part of the money goes to the forest of Congo, poor children in Guatemala, etc. This way, political consciousness is depoliticized in what is called the “Starbucks effect.”55 It can also be seen in commercial advertisements. In one of them, after scenes depicting some kind of undefined natural catastrophe intercalated with scenes of a carpenter building an undefined wooden structure and women in what seems to be a fashion show, the real context is revealed: the models are going to a sort of Noah’s Arc built by the carpenter, so that they can survive the ecological catastrophe. The purpose of the advertisement is finally disclosed: to sell deodorant — “the final fragrance.” The slogan — “Happy end of the world!” — explicitly exploits the ecological collapse to sell commodities.56 Opposition and political will themselves are being seduced to fit into the commodity form, even pervading climate science itself. Some scientists seem to notice this pervasive pressure of economic fetishism over science when they state: “liberate the science from the economics, finance, and astrology, stand by the conclusions however uncomfortable” or “geoengineering is like a heroin addict finding a new way of cheating his children out of money.”57Decarbonization is always challenged to be “economically feasible.” What is necessary, though, is that a more radical critique come to the fore in the public debate, an explicitly anticapitalist stance that refuses the requirements of capital accumulation in the definition of socio-environmental policies — not the least because it seems it is already impossible to reconcile the limitation of global warming to two degrees Celsius and simultaneously keep “economic growth.”58

    It must be highlighted that the fetishization here described and its ecological destructiveness are a historical development, specific to capitalism, and that is why it can be overcome: the social metabolism with nature is not necessarily destructive. Commodity fetishism and labor as the social-mediating category (abstract labor) are historically specific to capitalism, and began with primitive accumulation.59 The Anthropocene as the globalized disruption of Nature is the externalization of alienated labor, its logical material conclusion.60 Overcoming it requires the reappropriation of what has been constituted in alienated form, that is, the decommodification of human social activity or the overcoming of capitalism.61 Technology so reconfigured and socialized would no longer be determined by profitability, but would be the technical translation of new values, and would tend to become art.62 Instead of being determined by the unidimensional valorization of value, social production would be the outcome of a multiplicity of commonly discussed criteria, ranging from social, ecological, aesthetic, and ethical considerations, and beyond — in other words, material wealth should be freed from the value-form. Technologies such as solar energy, microelectronics, and agroecology, for example, could be used to shape a world of abundant material wealth and a conscious social metabolism with Nature — a world with abundant clean renewable energy, abundant free social time due to the highly automated productive forces, and abundant food ecologically produced, under social control.63

    Then and only then Man could be in conscious control of planetary material cycles and could use this control for human ends (even if deciding to keep them in their “natural” state). In fact, this means taking the promise of the Anthropocene very seriously, that is, Man should take conscious control of planetary material cycles, extend the terrain of the political hitherto left to the blind mechanics of nature and, in capitalism, to commodity fetishism.64 And this not only because the productive forces developed by capitalism allow it — although up to now we do it without conscious social control — but also because it might be necessary. Civilization is adapted to the Holocenic conditions that prevailed in the last ten thousand years, and we should be prepared to act to preserve these conditions that allow human development, or mitigate sudden changes, because they could be challenged not only by human (fetishized) activity, but also by natural causes, what already occurred many times in natural history (such as in the case of glacial-interglacial cycles triggered by perturbations in Earth’s orbit, or the catastrophic extinction of dinosaurs due to a meteor impact).65 The (fetishized) “invisible hand” and the (fetishized) “Anthropocene” are two faces of the same coin, of the same unconscious socialization, and should both be overcome with the communalization of social activity, that is, the real control of planetary material cycles depends on conscious social control of world production.

    It should be emphasized that what is here criticized as “fetishism” is not merely the imprecise naming of the “Anthropocene,” but the form of material interchange itself. And yet what emerges here is a truly utopian perspective, the promise of the realization of the Anthropocene, not as an anthropological constant or a “natural” force, but as a fully historical species-being that consciously controls and gives form to the material conditions of the planet. If, as put by the young Marx, alienated labor alienates Man’s species-being, the liberatory reorganization of social-material interchange would unleash the species potential that is embedded, though socially negated, in the “Anthropocene.”66Geoengineering and advanced technology in general freed from value-form and instrumental reason could be used not only to solve the climate problem, but also, as Adorno wrote, to “help nature to open its eyes,” to help it “on the poor earth to become what perhaps it would like to be.”67 Advanced forces of production imply that Fourier’s poetic utopian vision recalled by Walter Benjamin could be materialized:

    cooperative labor would increase efficiency to such an extent that four moons would illuminate the sky at night, the polar ice caps would recede, seawater would no longer taste salty, and beasts of prey would do man’s bidding. All this illustrates a kind of labor which, far from exploiting nature, would help her give birth to the creations that lie dormant in her womb.68

    Even the elimination of brutality in nature (predation) and the abolition of slaughterhouses through the production of synthetic meat nowadays seem within theoretical reach with “genetic reprogramming” and stem-cell technology. That goes beyond the wildest Marcusean utopian dreams.69 Of course, this requires a social struggle that subverts the production determined by the valorization of value and frees, first of all, human potential. On the other hand, with business as usual, we are likely to see our material future on Earth being determined by the interest rate, emergency geoengineering, and chance.

    1. Guy Debord, The Sick Planet, trans. Not Bored (2006 [1971]) http://www.notbored.org/the-sick-planet.htmlBACK
    2. I would like to thank Cláudio R. Duarte, Raphael F. Alvarenga, Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, and the anonymous reviewers for the valuable suggestions.BACK
    3. Paul Crutzen, “Geology of Mankind,” Nature 415 (2002) 23.BACK
    4. David Archer, The Global Carbon Cycle (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2010), and James Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009). BACK
    5. Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times (New York: Verso, 2010) 333.BACK
    6. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: PhilosophicalFragments. Trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002 [1947]) 6.BACK
    7. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume III, trans. David Fernbach (London: Penguin, 1991 [1894]) 949, and John Bellamy-Foster, Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (New York: Monthly Review, 2000). BACK
    8. Johan Rockström et al., “A Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” Nature 461 (2009): 472-75, and Will Steffen et al. (2015), “Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet,” Science 347: 6223 (13 February 2015).BACK
    9. Andreas Malm, “The Origins of Fossil Capital: From Water to Steam in the British Cotton Industry,” Historical Materialism 21:1 (2013): 15-68. BACK
    10. Steffen et al., “Planetary Boundaries.”BACK
    11. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, as per first German edition, trans. Albert Dragstedt (n. d. [1867]).BACK
    12. Crutzen, “Geology.” BACK
    13. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume I. Trans. Ben Fowkes. (London: Penguin, 1990 [1867]) 166, 253. BACK
    14. Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, 175, 255.BACK
    15. For a discussion of the continuity between the Marxian concepts of alienation and fetishism, see Lucio Colletti’s introduction in Karl Marx, Marx’s Early Writings, trans. Rodney Livingstone and Gregor Benton (London: Penguin, 1992 [1844]).BACK
    16. Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, trans. D. Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone, 1994 [1967]) 46. See also Moishe Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993), and Anselm Jappe, Les aventures de la marchandise: Pour une nouvelle critique de la valeur (Paris: Denoël, 2003): 25-86.BACK
    17. Postone, Time 158-60. BACK
    18. Jappe, Les aventures 25-86. BACK
    19. Robert Kurz, Subjektlose Herrschaft: zur Aufhebung einer verkürzten Gesellschaftskritik, EXIT! (1993).BACK
    20. Capital, Volume I 166 (emphasis added), and Žižek, End Times 190. BACK
    21. Debord, Sick PlanetBACK
    22. Slavoj Žižek, Mapping Ideology (New York: Verso, 1994) 8.BACK
    23. Capital, Volume I 179, 989. BACK
    24. Paul Burkett, Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective (New York: St. Martin’s, 1999) 79-98, and Robert Kurz, Schwarzbuch Kapitalismus (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 2009 [1999]) 10. BACK
    25. Kurz, Schwarzbuch 218, and John Holloway, Crack Capitalism (New York: Pluto, 2010) 146.BACK
    26. Capital, Volume I 493n4. BACK
    27. Peter D. Schwartzman and David W. Schwartzman, A Solar Transition Is Possible(London: IPRD, 2011), and Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030,” Scientific American (Nov. 2009): 58-65BACK
    28. Andreas Malm, “China as Chimney of the World: The Fossil Capital Hypothesis,” Organization and Environment 25:2 (2012): 146-77, and Daniel Cunha, “A todo vapor rumo à catástrofe?” Sinal de Menos 9 (2013): 109-33. BACK
    29. Barry Commoner, “Chapter 8: Population and Affluence” and “Chapter 9: The Technological Flaw,” The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology (New York: Knopf, 1971).  BACK
    30. Capital, Volume III 176.BACK
    31. Claus Peter Ortlieb, “A Contradiction between Matter and Form,” Marxism and the Critique of Value, ed. Neil Larsen, Mathias Nilges, Josh Robinson, and Nicholas Brown (Chicago: MCM’, 2014 [2008]) 77-121.BACK
    32. John Bellamy-Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York, The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (New York: Monthly Review, 2010): 169-182. BACK
    33. William Stanley Jevons, The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines (n. d. [1865]) http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Jevons/jvnCQ.htmlBACK
    34. Larry Lohmann, “The Endless Algebra of Climate Markets,” Capitalism Nature Socialism22:4 (2011): 93-116, and Maria Gutiérrez, “Making Markets Out of Thin Air: A Case of Capital Involution,” Antipode 43:3 (2011): 639-61.BACK
    35. Kevin Anderson, “The Inconvenient Truth of Carbon Offsets,” Nature 484 (2012) 7. BACK
    36. Lohmann, “Endless Algebra.”BACK
    37. Damon Matthews, Nathan Gillet, Peter Stott, and Kirsten Zickfeld, “The Proportionality of Global Warming to Cumulative Carbon Emissions,” Nature 459 (2009): 829-33.BACK
    38. Jeff Coelho, “Global Carbon Market Value Hits Record $176 Billion,” Reuters (30 May 2012).BACK
    39. ETC Group, Geopiracy: The Case Against Geoengineering (Manila: ETC Group, 2010).BACK
    40. Eli Kintisch, Hack the Planet: Science’s Best Hope—or Worst Nightmare—for Averting Climate Catastrophe (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010): 77-102. BACK
    41. Susan Solomon, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Reto Knutti, and Pierre Friedglinstein, “Irreversible Climate Change Due to Carbon Dioxide Emissions,” PNAS 106:6 (2009): 1704-9. BACK
    42. Victor Brovkin, Vladimir Petoukhov, Martin Claussen, Eva Bauer, David Archer, and Carlo Jaeger, “Geoengineering Climate by Stratospheric Sulfur Injections: Earth System Vulnerability to Technological Failure,” Climatic Change 92 (2009): 243-59. BACK
    43. Scott Barrett, “The Incredible Economics of Geoengineering,” Environmental and Resource Economics 39:1 (2007): 45-54.BACK
    44. Martin Lukacs, “World’s Biggest Geoengineering Experiment ‘Violates’ UN Rules,” The Guardian (15 October 2012).BACK
    45. William Nordhaus, A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies (New Haven: Yale UP, 2008), and Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review (London: HM Treasury, 2007). BACK
    46. Capital, Volume III 459-524. BACK
    47. Capital, Volume III 515. BACK
    48. Capital, Volume III 523. BACK
    49. Stern, Economics.BACK
    50. Capital, Volume III 731-32.BACK
    51. Capital, Volume III 736.BACK
    52. Robert Ayres, “On the Practical Limits to Substitution,” Ecological Economics 61 (2007): 115-28.BACK
    53. Postone, Time 383. BACK
    54. Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic. BACK
    55. Slavoj Žižek, Catastrophic But Not Serious. Lecture video (2011).BACK
    56. Axe, “Happy End of the World!” Advertisement video (2012).BACK
    57. Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, “A New Paradigm for Climate Change: How Climate Change Science Is Conducted, Communicated and Translated into Policy Must Be Radically Transformed If ‘Dangerous’ Climate Change Is to Be Averted,” Nature Climate Change 2 (Sept. 2012): 639-40, and Kintisch, Hack 57. BACK
    58. Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, “Beyond ‘Dangerous’ Climate Change: Emission Scenarios for a New World,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369 (2011): 20-44.BACK
    59. Postone, Time; Holloway, Crack Capitalism; Krisis Group, Manifesto Against Labour(1999).BACK
    60. Sick Planet.BACK
    61. Time.BACK
    62. Commoner, Closing Circle; Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon, 1964); Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon, 1969). BACK
    63. Robert Kurz, Antiökonomie und Antipolitik. Zur Reformulierung der sozialen Emanzipation nach dem Ende des “Marxismus” (1997); Schwartzman and Schartzman, Solar Transition;Miguel Altieri, Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture (Boulder: Westview, 1995).BACK
    64. Eric Swyngedouw, “Apocalypse now! Fear and Doomsday Pleasures,” Capitalism NatureSocialism 24:1 (2013): 9-17. BACK
    65. Hansen, Storms, and Rockström et al., “Safe Operating Space.”BACK
    66. Marx, Marx’s Early Writings. BACK
    67. Cited in Herbert Marcuse, Counterrevolution and Revolt (Boston: Beacon, 1972) 66.BACK
    68. Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History” in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 4, 1938-1940, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Belknap, 2003) 394.BACK
    69. See David Pierce, Reprogramming Predators (2009), and BBC, World’s First Lab-Grown Burger Is Eaten in London (5 Aug. 2013). Marcuse’s skepticism about the “pacification of nature” is expressed in Counterrevolution and Revolt 68.BACK

    Slamming the Anthropocene: Performing climate change in museums (reCollections)

    reCollections / Issues / Volume 10 number 1 / Papers / Slamming the Anthropocene

    by Libby Robin and Cameron Muir – April 2015

    The Anthropocene

    Today’s museums are generally expected to use their objects and collections in ways that extend beyond exhibitions. Theatrical events, for example, can provide important complementary activities. This particularly applies to public issues such as climate change and nature conservation, which are often framed in scientific and technical terms. An exhibition is expensive to mount and demands long lead times, but a public program is ‘light on its feet’; it can respond to a topical moment such as a sudden disaster, and it can incorporate new scientific findings where relevant.

    One way to make such debates inclusive and non-technical is to explore through performance the cultural and emotional dimensions of living with environmental change. Violent Ends: The Arts of Environmental Anxiety, staged at the National Museum of Australia in 2011,is an example of a one-day event that used art, film and performance to explore anxieties and public concerns about climate change. The event opened with the Chorus of Women, who sang a ‘Lament for Gaia’, and it concluded with ‘Reconciliation’, both works excerpted from The Gifts of the Furies(composed by Glenda Cloughly, 2009).[1] The performance presented  issues that are often rendered as ‘dry science’ in a way that enabled emotional responses to be included in discussions about global warming. A legacy of this event is a ‘web exhibition’ that includes podcasts, recordings and some of the art, including that of a leading Australian environmental artist, Mandy Martin, whose more recent work we discuss further below.[2] The curators of the event, Carolyn Strange (Australian National University), Libby Robin (National Museum of Australia and Australian National University), William L Fox (Director of the Center for Art+Environment, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno) and Tom Griffiths (Director of the Centre for Environmental History, Australian National University), are all scholars  with active partnerships in the arts and the museum sector. Violent Ends explored climate change through a variety of environmental arts. Since 2011, we have seen many comparable programs, in Australia and beyond.

    banner image for the Violent Ends website

    Thunderstorm over Paestum, after Turner, Wanderers in the Desert of the Real, 2008, used in the banner for the Violent Ends website ©Mandy Martin

    In this paper, we review some recent international museum and events-based ideas emerging around the concept of the Anthropocene, the proposition that the Earth has now left the Holocene and entered a new epoch: The Anthropocene (or Age of Humans). The Anthropocene is defined by changes in natural systems that have occurred because of the activities of humans. It is an idea that emerges from earth sciences, but it is also cultural: indeed the geological epoch of the Holocene (the last 11,700 years) marks the period in which most of the world’s major civilisations and cultures have emerged; it includes both the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions. To assert that the planet has moved ‘beyond the Holocene’ is to assert that humanity (indeed all life) has entered a new cultural and physical space that has not been previously experienced. Questions of how humans live in a planet with changed atmosphere, oceans, land systems, cities and climates are moral as well as physical. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described climate change as the greatest human rights issue of our times.[3]

    The Anthropocene epoch is defined by material evidence of human activities that have affected the way biophysical systems work. The stratigraphers (geologists) who decide if the new epoch should be formalised are seeking evidence of human activities in the crust of the earth, in rock strata, as this is the way boundaries between geological eras, epochs and ages have been traditionally defined.[4] Paul Crutzen, a Nobel-Prize-winning atmospheric chemist and the author of the original proposal to name the new epoch the ‘Anthropocene’, has focused on global systems, particularly evidence such as CO2 levels in the atmosphere (showing the burning of fossil fuels) and pH factors in the oceans (showing acidification caused by agricultural outfalls).[5]

    Perhaps the most important question is not whether the Holocene has ended but, if it has, how are people (and the cultural systems that have evolved in the Holocene years) to live with such change? The idea of an uncharted new Age of Humans has attracted considerable attention from creative artists, museum curators and scholars in the environmental humanities.[6] Even as the stratigraphers debate the end of the Holocene, global change is upon us, and the creative sector has tackled these questions in its own way. One art and ethnographic museum, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, hosted the most recent scientific meeting of the International Commission on Stratigraphy in October 2014.[7] HKW, with its mission to represent ‘all the cultures of the world’, recognises that the ‘people’ focus of the Anthropocene demands debate that is both cultural and scientific, and that is concerned with more than just the people of the West. The HKW Anthropocene Project and Anthropocene Curriculum have a strong artistic and museum sector focus, which we discuss further below.[8]

    Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

    Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, October 2014 – photograph by Libby Robin

    Environmental humanities scholars of the Anthropocene emphasise the questions of justice (and injustice) embedded in planetary changes. Changes to climate, air quality and oceans, and loss of biodiversity are caused by subsets of humans (not all humanity) and their effects are felt by different people, and of course ultimately all life on Earth. The challenge for the humanities is to enable the voices of the people who suffer from the changes, or advocate on behalf of other creatures, to be part of the conversations that contribute to adapting cultural practices in response. People are already living with rapid change: the so-called ‘Great Acceleration’ of changes since the 1950s includes sharp growths in population, wealth and global financial systems, as well as biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, atmospheric carbon dioxide and inequalities between rich and poor.[9] All these changes together are unsettling, yet people are seeking positive, resilient futures in the face of ‘strange change’. This is a debate where the creative sector – design, architecture, museums and humanistic scholarship – is well-poised to make contributions to ideas for living in a changed world of the future. Artists and scientists alike want a broad-based future, not just one that simply ‘reduces the future to climate’, in the apt phrase of Mike Hulme, one of the world’s leading climate scientists.[10]

    The Anthropocene is defined by its materiality. The fossil systems that trace its onset and evolution may be buried under layers of rock, lava or sea, as were the traces of earlier epochs. Stratigraphers seeking ‘markers’ for this epoch look for material that might survive the end of an age of Earth. For example, in the case of the mass extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, footprints in the mud and bones remain, even after the collision of the Earth with a huge meteorite. The ‘markers of the era’ are material, and particularly well preserved if the disaster is sudden and buries them (rather than slow and eroding).  University of Leicester geologist Jan Zalasiewicz and his Anthropocene stratigraphy committee are looking for things that might become ‘buried treasure’, surviving as markers of humanity, after humanity is long gone. They are considering various forms of ‘artificial rock’ – bricks and concrete, for example, are long lasting, human-made and in vast quantities. The group is also considering plastics (manufactured polymers) as ideal for forming fossils that would date this epoch as different from all before it.[11]

    The materiality of the Anthropocene makes it of interest to museums, but on a very different scale from that considered by the stratigraphers. One of the alternatives to looking for material change in rock strata is to create cabinets of curiosities in our museums, spaces where objects enable conversations about what is strange change. People now have more ‘stuff’ than ever before and there is ever more waste – what does a gyre of plastic the size of a continent floating in the Pacific ocean (‘the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’), say about the Age of Humans?[12] How could it be embodied as an object or set of objects in a Museum? What are the material objects that complement abstract representations of strata, atmospheric chemical analysis, and graphs trending upwards? The challenge for museums and cultural institutions with a stake in valuing objects is to tell their stories well, and to give them rich context. If we are interested in how objects can entertain, inform and inspire, we need to present them as more than mere ‘stuff’.

    The slam

    In November 2014, the University of Wisconsin hosted an Anthropocene slam, an object-inspired event that brought together artists, filmmakers, scholars and performers at its campus in the state capital, Madison. The university has, since its inception, avowed a commitment to public intellectual life and the community of Wisconsin state. ‘The Wisconsin Idea’, as expressed by the university’s president, Charles Van Hise, in 1904, is quoted today in the words on the wall of the Wisconsin Seminar Room and on a centenary public memorial on the highest hill on the Madison campus: ‘I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the university reaches every home in the state’.

    ‘The Wisconsin Idea’ centenary public memorial

    ‘The Wisconsin Idea’ centenary public memorial – photograph by Libby Robin

    The Wisconsin Idea expresses an aspiration that university work can inform and enrich the ‘public good’ including cultural institutions. The University of Wisconsin takes as its brief to benefit all the citizens of Wisconsin, not just those who have the privilege to be its students. As well as repaying the investment of the state in its university, the public good aspiration has come to hold strong appeal for the state’s benefactors and donors. The Chazen Art Museum in the University of Wisconsin at Madison combines an outstanding collection of modern art and a strong teaching program in art history, including curatorial education, research and leadership programs.

    The Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) initiative at the university has also used the support of private donors to develop a range of ambitious programs under the banner ‘Environmental futures’. The film festival Tales from Planet Earth, which has since 2007 successfully screened all over Madison and beyond in a range of venues, including Centro Hispano, a community centre serving Madison’s Latino population, has drawn new local audiences to the university’s programs and has helped to increase diversity within the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. In November 2014, the CHE team, Gregg Mitman, William Cronon and Rob Nixon, among others, hosted a new venture, a very different sort of public event, The Anthropocene Slam: A Cabinet of Curiosities.

    The ‘slam’ is a concept that originated with poetry, performance and a competitive spirit. The first poetry slam in 1984 was a poetry reading in the Get Me High lounge in Chicago. Poets performed their words and audiences voted with acclamation for the winners. The community audience was essential. The slams were noisy, theatrical and democratic – very different from ‘high art’ poetry recitation. The Anthropocene Slam borrowed the performance and entertainment idea, asking contributors to ‘pitch in a public fishbowl setting’ an object that might represent the Anthropocene in a cabinet of curiosities. From a large field of applicants, 25 objects appeared in five sessions, involving a total of 32 presenters (several objects were presented by teams). The sessions (held across three days from 8-10 November 2014) were grouped into intriguing themes:

    1. nightmares/dreams
    2. Anthropocene fossils
    3. tales and projections
    4. trespass
    5. resistance/persistence.

    The aim was to find objects that might help humanity rethink ‘its relationship to time, place, and the agency of things that shape planetary change’.[13] This innovative scholarly method was designed from the start to be inclusive of scientific, artistic and practical ideas, extending what is usually possible in academic settings. One of its public outcomes was the performance event in Madison.

    The slam presentations were complemented by a major public lecture from journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, drawing on her bestselling book, The Sixth Extinction.[14] An audience of more than 500 people from all over Wisconsin came out on a chilly night to hear this fluent and well-known communicator of big ideas explain the thesis that the loss of biodiversity today is on a scale equivalent to the mass extinctions evident in geological strata. The last (fifth) mass extinction ended the era of dinosaurs. The slam created a context for this important lecture.[15]

    Another aspect of the slam was the building of a travelling cabinet of curiosities,to exhibit the most popular objects and stories, and to take them to local communities. Like the original Wunderkammer from the 16th and 17th centuries, the cabinet created out of the slam is as much a cabinet of conversations and global connections as one of objects.[16] The purpose of the slam was to discover objects that might travel to a cabinet in another context: the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, the largest science and technology museum in the world. One item from the cabinet even made it to opening night on 4 December 2014 of Willkommen im Anthropozän, the world’s first gallery exhibition of the Anthropocene.[17]

    There will be a more formal reception for the cabinet and its objects in July 2015, in an Anthropocene Objects and Environmental Futures workshop, a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin, the Rachel Carson Center at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU), the Deutsches Museum and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm.[18] The cabinet will also be available to travel elsewhere, including to Sweden, where the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory hosted an international variation on the Tales from Planet Earth film festival in 2014.[19]

    The ‘call for objects’ drafted by Gregg Mitman and Rob Nixon was rather different from a standard conference or workshop ‘call’:

    We are in the midst of a great reawakening to questions of time – across the spans of geological, ecological, evolutionary, and human history. It is a reawakening precipitated, not by a nostalgia for the past, but by a sense of urgency about the future. The Anthropocene, coined in 2000 by ecologist Eugene Stoermer and popularized by Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen, is one of the most resonant examples of how the urgency of the future has prompted scientists, artists, humanities scholars and social scientists to engage creatively with the emerging legacy of our geomorphic and biomorphic powers. The advent of this new scientific object – the Anthropocene – is altering how we conceptualize, imagine and inhabit time. The Anthropocene encourages us to re-envisage (in Nigel Clark’s phrase) future and past relations between ‘earthly volatility and bodily vulnerability’. What images and stories can we create that speak with conceptual richness and emotional energy to our rapidly changing visions of future possibility? For in a world deluged with data, arresting stories and images matter immeasurably, playing a critical role in the making of environmental publics and the shaping of environmental policy.

    The Anthropocene is just one among many moments in time when new scientific objects have altered humanity’s relationship to the past, present, and future. The coming-into-being of scientific objects such as fossils, radioactivity, genetic mutations, toxic pesticides, and ice cores, to name a few, have precipitated different narratives and imaginings of the human past and the human future. What might a cabinet of curiosities for the age of the Anthropocene look like? What objects might jolt us into reimagining environmental time across diverse scales, from the recent past to deep history? How might certain kinds of objects make visible the differential impacts – past, present, and future – that have come to shape the relationships among human and non-human beings, living in an era of extreme hydrocarbon extraction, extreme weather events, and extreme economic disparity?

    … How is the appearance and impact of homo sapiensas a geomorphic force registered in the sediments of history, the objects around us, and the things yet to be? What emotionally layered Anthropocene objects can surprise, disturb, startle or delight us into new ways of thinking and feeling? What objects speak to resilience or adaptation, to vanishing biota or emerging morphologies?[20]

    The cabinet also explored ‘future imaginaries’, both ‘utopian and apocalyptic’, considering the ideas of art and science, literature and film, history and policy. This wider Environmental Futures project opened a transnational and interdisciplinary conversation, with a focus on material objects and on the emotional responses (for example, hopes and fears) that they invoked. The challenge for the objects and their presenters was to:

    … comprehend and portray environmental change that occurs imperceptibly and over eons of time – and that inflicts slow violence upon future generations – when media, corporate, and political cultures thrive on the short-term.[21]

    Cabinets of curiosities

    The Wunderkammer started life in German as a ‘room of wonder’, rather than the English ‘curiosity’. The cabinet of curiosities evoked awe. Rather than evoking rational curiosity, a cabinet should enable enchantment, according to political ecologist Jane Bennett:

    Thirteenth-century writer Albertus Magnus described wonder as, like fear, ‘shocked surprise’ … but fear cannot dominate if enchantment is to be … it is a state of interactive fascination, not fall to your knees awe.’[22]

    ‘Awe’ was a word laden with moral and religious overtones in pre-Enlightenment times. In the 21st century, the objects of a cabinet stir questions about the ‘ethical relevance of human affect’.[23]

    The rarity of objects in the era of the Wunderkammer added much to their value. In 1500, the average Middle European household had just 30 objects. By 1900, such households contained 400 objects. The proliferation of objects continued throughout the 20th century, rising to 12,000 objects per household in 2010.[24] The sheer number of objects in modern life changes them: they are no longer precious but rather just ‘stuff’, too many to count or care about. An Anthropocene-era cabinet of curiosities rediscovers objects that can stir wonder, curiosity and care, even for a jaded 21st-century viewer, whose home is burdened with an excess of objects. Each object’s story needs to be evocative, remarkable, perhaps even luminous. Even a prosaic object can carry a big story. This can be assisted by a great ‘pitch’ or performance that breathes life into the story.

    When objects have lost their stories and their place in the lives of their owners, they are just stuff. When the stories are remembered and embraced with the object, they stimulate memories and reflection. These can even have clinical value for those suffering from memory loss. Keeping the context of the object simple and clear is often better for stimulating memory than cluttering it with high-tech apps.[25]

    Restoring enchantment to objects demands retelling their stories, making individual objects special and important to identity again. The slam was a deliberate strategy to foster engagement and to enliven and reinvigorate objects, to sponsor a ‘sense of play’. It was a technique that could ‘hone sensory receptivity to the marvellous specificity of things’ and, above all, that could ‘resist the story of the disenchantment of modernity’, in Jane Bennett’s words.[26] The challenge of the Anthropocene is its scale. It may seem so large and frightening that it makes people feel they can do nothing about it. The performance event is a strategy for keeping open possibilities for adaptive strategies in the face of rapid change, allowing objects to explore facets of a bigger story in smaller, playful ways.

    Neil MacGregor’s History of the World in 100 Objects is one attempt to tell human history ‘from out of Africa to the credit card’. He argues for the levelling power of objects: not all societies have text to tell their stories, but objects may survive to speak from cultures beyond the written word. A history created from objects can include the 95 per cent of human history that is only told in stone. [27] While organic objects cannot survive indefinitely, and fragile objects are more likely to be lost than robust ones, the survival of an object is not just physical: it is also testimony to a cultural context where someone cared enough to protect this object – perhaps in a grave, perhaps in a pocket. Small objects may survive better than large. Edmund de Waal’s imaginative memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes, told through his global family’s netsuke collection, shows just how powerful a small and special object can become. Netsuke are tiny Japanese ceramic, wood and ivory carvings (originally merely a functional addendum that enabled men to carry a tobacco pouch on a kimono). The de Waal collection of netsuke moved through generations and over a century of extraordinary international events, holding the family memories across time and space, and encapsulating his family’s history.[28]

    If we follow Neil MacGregor’s notion of a museum as a place that enables ‘the study of things [which] can lead to a truer understanding of the world’[29], then we have a particular new challenge to find the poignancy of objects in a time when there are too many of them. Which objects might enchant audiences and museum visitors in a world marked by the proliferation of things? How can we learn to wonder or be curious about ‘stuff’? The answer, in Mitman’s vision, is that we select and perform or present just a few objects, juxtaposed with others that can carry the Anthropocene story in quirky ways. When the idea of global change is too big and abstract for human comprehension, a small cabinet can act as a microcosm to enable an imaginative and active response. Each object is there for its own story. Together in a cabinet they become a chorus of stories.

    The object

    One of the 25 objects ‘performed’ at the Anthropene Slam and subsequently selected for the Deutsches Museum’s Anthropocene Wunderkammer was a domestic pesticide applicator. The familiar bike-pump-sized pesticide sprayer was a popular household item from the 1920s to the 1950s. In the United States the Standard Oil Company’s ‘Flit’ brand of insecticide became synonymous with the spray pump. Other countries had their own brands: in Australia it was Mortein.

    ‘Flit’ branded handheld pesticide spray pump

    ‘Flit’ branded handheld pesticide spray pump, 1928 – Hamburg Museum

    The pesticide pump sprayer speaks of a faith in science to improve lifestyles, and the hubris of humanity’s desire to control nature. The sprayer’s genealogy links to both the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions, each a break in time that has been argued to mark the Anthropocene.[30] It is an object born of the demographic shift towards large urban populations, and the demands for greater intensification and efficiencies in food growing that make that shift possible. Until the mid-20th century (the likely date stratigraphers will use for the dawn of the Anthropocene[31]), most older-generation pesticides had been available for hundreds of years. Soaps, oils, salt, sulphur, and more toxic substances, such as those derived from arsenic, lead and mercury, were applied in all manner of ways. It was the social and economic changes of the 19th century, however, that drove sprayer development, as growers sought to cover plants and trees on a larger scale, with more efficiency.

    Bellows syringe sprayer

    Bellows syringe sprayer, 1874 – The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser

    As early as the 1870s, American Agriculturalist reported a French horticulturalist using bellows across a nozzle to disperse insecticide. The article explains that the device and its production of ‘liquid dust’ use the same principles of fluid dynamics as a perfume sprinkler or medical atomiser.[32] A fine spray could cover all of a tree more easily, quickly and without wasting pouring liquid or dusting. By the 1890s the use of portable and horsedrawn pesticide sprayers was so common that the New South Wales Minister for Mines and Agriculture held a field competition in December 1890 at Parramatta to determine the best and most efficient commercial insecticide sprayer. The Australian-made ‘Farrington’ machine was fitted on a cart and could spray 500 gallons per day. Some needed two operators but others could be used by a single person, pumping with one hand and holding the sprayer with the other. The Lowe’s machine had a three-in-one action: it could spray, fumigate and expel a hot vapour of sulphur and steam near its nozzle. Observers noted that cross-winds often wasted the fumigant, so some orchardists proposed enveloping trees in tents that could ensure the expensive fumes were trapped where they were needed. On the day, the most impressive sprayer was a new machine from the United States. It was compact and used compressed air rather than a hand pump to create the hydraulic pressure, so ‘all that the orchardist has to do is stand at the nozzle and blaze away at pest and disease’.[33] It was the fastest of the sprayers in the competition, dressing a tree in just two-and-a-half minutes.

    At the same time that chemical companies were advertising pesticide formulas to landholders in the late 19th century, they were adapting agricultural sprayers to deliver chemicals for domestic gardens and inside the home.[34] From the 1920s, when better sprayer design and pervasive chemical industry advertising combined with higher household incomes and campaigns for improved domestic hygiene and ‘mothercraft’, the familiar home pump sprayer became widely used. After the Second World War, the sprayer formulas became longer lasting and more effective, with new synthetic chemicals. Less than two decades later, the public began to discover that the miracle chemicals were not as safe as they had been led to believe.

    Performing the object

    A ten-minute ‘slam’ format presents a challenge to historians in particular, who by their nature and training, are dedicated to providing context. How much story, information and reflection is possible in ten minutes? The format shaped the form and selection of story – the performance had to provoke and begin a conversation. It would not be possible to explain everything. The invited presenters, Michelle Mart and Cameron Muir, opened their performance by playing characters, two archetypes associated with the use of chemicals in different contexts – domestic, urban, wealthy on the one hand, and industrial, rural and poor on the other.[35]

    An immaculate housewife waits at the door to greet her husband

    An immaculate housewife waits at the door to greet her husband, 1953 – H Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Corbis

    Michelle Mart appeared as a 1950s housewife, a stereotype from the period’s advertising posters come to life, complete with lipstick, pearls and twin-set. She advocated the convenience and virtues of a bug-free household, as images projected in the background showed advertising and stylised scenes of the suburban ideal. Successful domestic management, or orderliness, cleanliness, and wholesomeness: perfect weed-free lawns, insect-free kitchens, and unblemished fruit and vegetables. Mart was the woman who stood on the veranda of a neat, architecturally designed house to welcome her husband home from work. Her home was managed with a pump spray that dispersed DDT through the kitchen cupboards, just like in the military, where officers were photographed spraying DDT down a fellow serviceman’s shirt. Some of the men came home from being sprayed in wartime service to the new peacetime spraying on the suburban frontier.

    A US soldier is demonstrating DDT hand-spraying equipment while applying the insecticide

    A US soldier is demonstrating DDT hand-spraying equipment while applying the insecticide – Centres for Disease Control Public Health Image Library

    Advertising urged homeowners to use chemicals for the sake of the family’s health (some thought polio was spread by the housefly), while another has fruit and vegetables singing, ‘DDT is good for me-e-e!’ Mart’s 1950s character proclaimed she is ‘lucky to live at a time when the wonders of modern technology and chemistry have transformed our lives’, and best of all, the new chemicals are ‘safe for everybody’.[36]

    ‘DDT is good for m-e-e’ advertisement, Penn Salt Chemicals

    ‘DDT is good for m-e-e’ advertisement, Penn Salt Chemicals, 1947 – Collector’s Weekly

    At this point the second character entered: Cameron Muir was an agricultural worker in a white, full-body chemical hazmat suit, including hood, gloves, goggles and face mask, and carrying a large knapsack pump sprayer adorned with lurid red-and-black warnings about its toxicity. We have moved beyond the innocence of postwar hubris in scientific and industrial expertise, but users are exposed to more chemicals than ever. The agricultural worker character speaks of his brother, who blames the pesticides for illnesses and behavioural problems in his children. He wants to leave the job of spraying but he can’t find work elsewhere. The worker fears local complaints about the chemicals will endanger their relationship with the company employing them.

    Woman in Metema community, Ethiopia, using knapsack sprayer

    Woman in Metema community, Ethiopia, using knapsack sprayer, 2010 – International Livestock Research Institute

    The images projected in the background show the faces of individual agricultural works in developing countries, some of them disfigured by pesticide exposure and light aircraft spraying vast fields. Amidst health concerns and well-informed anxiety about spraying pesticides, industrial agriculture has scaled up again in the 21st century.

    Crop duster plane flying over Imperial Valley farms

    Crop duster plane flying over Imperial Valley farms, May 1972 – Charles O’Rear/The US National Archives

    The object and performance as provocateur

    Who owns the story of pesticides? The narrative of triumphant technological progress and control of nature continues to hold influence even in the face of startling costs and unintended consequences. Social and political commentators still attempt to discredit Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring 50 years later, while the chemical and seed industries sell promises of control, simplicity and safety to farmers wracked by the reality of an unpredictable nature and markets. More powerful than earnestness and statistics, Mart and Muir’s performance gave the voice to the Flit spray can and used it to retell the stereotypical narrative of technological progress. Humour, irony and juxtaposition can be more effective than numbers in exposing hubris in the failed narrative. The presentation made its point not just by telling, but by showing. It is a human story. The archetypal characters, images and objects spoke for themselves; each member of the audience actively made their own interpretations and connections.

    Towards the end of the presentation, Mart and Muir stepped out of character and spoke to the audience directly, personally. The ‘pitch’ or telling mode was reserved until the object story and its historical frames had been performed beforehand. The background or hypertext for the performance included the bigger scale, Anthropocene stories: since the Second World War humans have released more than 80,000 chemical compounds that no organism had previously encountered in the 3.5-billion-year history of life on earth.[37] This profound change will persist in the geological record and in our genetic legacies. Everyone is still exposed to this chemical soup. Researchers in the Lancet Neurology have declared we are in the midst of a ‘global, silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity’.[38] It’s even worse for those who farm or who live in the world’s most polluted places. The presentation ended with a provocative set of images. In the 1990s anthropologist Elizabeth Guillette asked children from the Yaqui Valley in Mexico to draw simple pictures – one group was from the agricultural lowlands, the other from the pesticide-free highlands. The children from the agricultural region could barely form shapes.[39] The difference in the drawings was a striking visualisation of what is largely an invisible agent of harm. It was also an illustration of the geographic inequality of toxic burdens.

    The chorus

    The domestic pesticide applicator object was one of 25 performed in the Madison Chorus. It has now been chosen to travel on to the Deutsches Museum, where a new cabinet of curiosities will be re-assembled in July 2015 with some of the Madison objects and some new, locally chosen Anthropocene objects. Global changes are everywhere, but human responses are personal, local, and the slam was an event for Madison. Munich is another context: another language, a science and technology museum, and the juxtaposition of the cabinet with a whole gallery of ideas and objects for the Anthropocene.[40] What the Madison cabinet brings is an event and a set of objects that can interrogate the gallery project for the Deutsches Museum and its university partner, the Rachel Carson Center. It also invites local content – objects that have resonance in Munich. The slam-style event works to collect together the object stories and to draw out patterns and sympathies between them.

    The Anthropocene Slam created a chorus of objects that worked together in Madison, juxtaposed with each other and the performances of their presenters. In fact, the audience was reluctant to vote for ‘best object’ in each section; these were not solo objects or voices, but rather notes that together created chords of global change stories, stories that were layered together with others. It didn’t make sense to pick out the ‘tenor’ or ‘soprano’ line for special attention. The poetry slam is usually a competition with a cash prize. The Anthropocene Slam resisted the competitive framework. Rather, it invited scholarly collaboration in a playful context. The shift from competition to chorus was its great success, enabling collaboration and partnerships and the reflections arising from some very different objects.

    The global and the local

    The Anthropocene Slam suggested one way to scale the abstract and global through personal objects. It created an object-conversation that worked for all ages and in intergenerational contexts. Educating citizens about living with global change is not a task for schools alone. This story affects every generation. As the Deutsches Museum has already realised, museums can be partners in this global education, and are ideally suited to intergenerational conversations: grandchildren and grandparents already often visit a museum together.

    HKW took the scholarly mission to educate people about the Anthropocene as its focus, as part of a two-year Anthropocene Project. For 11 days in November 2014, HKW created an international ‘Anthropocene Campus’, where its galleries showcased the exhibitions, video documentaries and artworks developed through its Anthropocene Project. Campus participants worked to develop a ‘curriculum’, including textbook and online teaching materials, through seminars and workshops on approaches to the ideas of the Anthropocene. Nearly 30 presenters worked with more than 100 interested participants, doctoral and postdoctoral scholars and practising artists.[41] Most of the presenters came from scientific disciplines leading Anthropocene discussions (especially earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences). Participants included a significant number of designers, museum specialists and visual artists, as well as scholars of earth sciences and environmental humanities. The boundaries between science and humanities dissolved in the intense program; the need to communicate and to teach and learn demanded clear, non-technical language and strong images. The overwhelming thrust of the curriculum materials was to develop human and emotional responses to the Anthropocene, as well as ways to converse beyond disciplinary silos to work together to solve problems and engage audiences.

    Thinking with museums

    How can we slow down the future to enable a sense of control? What is globally curious? What will we ‘wonder’ at in future? What sort of objects should we collect now for museums of the future? These are all urgent present problems as we imagine how museums will work in the changing circumstances of the Anthropocene. For Collecting the Future, a museum event at the American Museum of Natural History in October 2013, Jennifer Newell, Libby Robin and Kirsten Wehner specifically investigated what communities might collect for community museums of the future in local places that are changing fastest. What objects and stories can travel from depopulating Pacific Islands (where people are confronted with salinising ground water and rising seas) to their new communities in New Zealand or New York? These practical questions about living with climate change can bring communities into museums to use their collections in new ways. Community museums, national museums, science museums and art museums are all members of the Museums and Climate Change network of exchange that emerged from this event.[42]

    In Australia, as elsewhere, the arts have been engaging with ideas for imaginative futures through local museums and events. Climarte is one such group that ‘harnesses the creative power of the Arts to inform, engage and inspire action on climate change’.[43] It is an arts-led partnership including prominent artists, Nobel-Prize-winning scientist Peter Doherty and directors of key galleries, Maudie Palmer (founding director of Heide Museum of Modern Art and TarraWarra Museum of Art) and Stuart Purves (director of Australian Galleries, Australia’s longest and most established commercial art gallery). Australian Galleries will host the 2015 Climarte Festival’s opening exhibition, The Warming, curated by Mandy Martin, who was one of the international artists attending the Wisconsin Anthropocene Slam. The exhibition brings together eight artists from Australian Galleries with 17 additional artists who have been invited to contribute an ‘Anthropocene cabinet of curiosities’, a plinth of objects at the heart of the show. Some of the artists will also pitch their ‘curious object’ briefly at a special event on 3 May 2015, and there will be responses from moderators, Peter Christoff (from the University of Melbourne and formerly Victorian Commissioner for the Future), William L Fox and Libby Robin. The aim is to create an event to inspire new thinking about what the arts can do in a future beyond the Holocene.

    The future is often constructed through the lens of economic expertise. For example, the Australian Treasury has issued a 2015 Intergenerational Report that focuses exclusively on the economic burdens that the present generation places on those living in 2055.[44] Sometimes it is earth system scientists, or climate modellers who describe futures – for example, under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios of 2 or 4 or 6 degrees of warming. Yet the future is also about cultural and moral choices, not just economics and environment. The worlds of 2055 and beyond will be more than just climate spaces and economies. The museum sector is poised to treat the future as a ‘cultural fact’, in Arjun Appadurai’s terms. Appadurai writes of a future that includes ‘imagination, anticipation and aspiration’.[45] The future is not just about imagining nature or anticipating economic conditions, it is also about aspiration. While ‘probable’ futures are generated by mathematical models of nature and economics, such models often offer little hope. An alternative is to look to museums, to objects and to the creative dialogues of personal visits and performance events to foster qualitative possible futures. The future is not just a technical or neutral space: it is ‘shot through with affect and sensation’.[46] Science and scholarship alone often lack important sensations for imagining the future: ‘awe, vertigo, excitement, disorientation’. Rather than just measuring change in our world – or denying that there is any – we can take a third way that acknowledges change, including, but not only, climate change. Cultural institutions have an important role in enabling communities to get on with living positively with the changes of the Anthropocene. Culture works through ‘the traction of the imagination’, expanding the possibilities for ways to live with the future as it unfolds.[47]

    This paper has been independently peer-reviewed.

    Endnotes

    1 www.chorusofwomen.org.

    2 Violent Ends: The Arts of Environmental Anxiety.

    3 www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/21/desmond-tutu-climate-change-is-the-global-enemy.

    4 Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N Waters, Mark Williams et al., ‘When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal’, Quaternary International, 12 January 2015, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.11.045.

    5 PJ Crutzen, ‘Geology of mankind’, Nature, vol. 415, no. 6867, 2002, 23.

    6 Christian Schwägerl, The Anthropocene: The Human Era and How it Shapes the Planet, Synergetic Press, Santa Fe/London, 2014; Luke Keogh & Nina Möllers, ‘Pushing the boundaries: Curating the Anthropocene at the Deutsches Museum’, in Fiona Cameron & Brett Neilson (eds), Climate Change, Museum Futures: The Roles and Agencies of Museums and Science Centers, Routledge, London, 2014, pp. 78–89.

    7 Currently chaired by Jan Zalasiewicz, who has worked extensively with humanities scholars (at the University of Chicago and the University of Sydney), and has supervised art projects such as the French artist Yesenia Thibault-Picazo’s Cabinet of Future Geology, currently showing at the Deutsches Museum, Munich, until 2016. In 2015 another version of Thibault-Picazo’s work will be part of the Globale Festival in the New Media Museum, Karlsruhe, Germany.

    8 Bernd Scherer (ed.), The Anthropocene Project: A Report, HKW, Berlin, 2014; Libby Robin, Dag Avango, Luke Keogh, Nina Möllers, Bernd Scherer & Helmuth Trischler, ‘Three galleries of the Anthropocene’, Anthropocene Review, vol. 1, no. 3,  207–24.

    9 W Steffen, J Grinevald, P Crutzen & J McNeill, ‘The Anthropocene: Conceptual and historical perspectives’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A,vol. 369, 2011, 842–67.

    10 Mike Hulme, ‘Reducing the future to climate: A story of climate determinism and reductionism’, Osiris, vol. 26, 2011, 245–66, p. 245.

    11 Jan Zalasiewicz, ‘Buried treasure’, in Geoff Manaugh (ed.), Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions, Nevada Museum of Art and Actar, Reno, 2013, pp. 258–61.

    12 Susan L Dautel, ‘Transoceanic trash: International and United States strategies for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, 2009, 181–208. This sort of global phenomenon (which grew and changed shape dramatically after the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011) has been very effectively illustrated in museums through ‘Science on a Sphere’ technology created by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Alaska State Museum, Juneau, http://juneauempire.com/stories/050109/ent_435381904.shtml#.VRTsEfmUeCc.

    13 From the ‘Call for objects’ (distributed through H-Net online 2013), www.carsoncenter.uni-muenchen.de/download/events/cfps/cfp_cabinet-of-curiosities.pdf.

    14 Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2014.

    15 Crutzen, ‘Geology of mankind’ (p. 23).

    16 Oliver Impey & Arthur MacGregor (eds) The Origins of Museums: The Cabinet of Curiosities in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Europe, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985.

    17 Welcome to the Anthropocene: The Earth in Our Hands (in English). The exhibition gallery opened 4 December 2014, and will run till 2016; Nina Möllers, Christian Schwägerl & Helmuth Trischler (eds) Willkommen im Anthropozän: Unsere Verantwortung für die Zukunft der Erde, Deutsches Museum, Munich, 2014; see also Libby Robin, Dag Avango, Luke Keogh, Nina Möllers, Bernd Scherer & Helmuth Trischler, ‘Three galleries of the Anthropocene’, Anthropocene Review, vol. 1, no. 3, 2014, 207–24, doi:10.1177/2053019614550533.

    18 Munich, 5–7 July 2015, www.carsoncenter.uni-muenchen.de/events_conf_seminars/calendar/ws_anthropocene-objects/index.html.

    19 www.kth.se/en/abe/inst/philhist/historia/2.45962/2.60531/tales.

    20 nelson.wisc.edu/che/anthroslam/about/index.php.

    21 From Environmental Futures unpublished prospectus (‘Call for papers’), 2013; see also Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2011.

    22 Jane Bennett, The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2001, p. 5, emphasis added.

    23 Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, Duke UP, Durham, 2010, p. xi.

    24 Christof Mauch, ‘The Great Acceleration of Objects’, Plenary panel, Anthropocene Slam, UW Madison, 10 November 2014.

    25 Charles Leadbeater, ‘The disremembered’, Aeon Magazine, March 2015, http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/where-does-identity-go-once-memory-falters-in-dementia.

    26 Bennett, Enchantment,p. 4.

    27 Neil MacGregor, A History of the World in 100 Objects, Penguin, London, 2012 (1st edn 2010), p. xix.

    28 Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, Vintage, London, 2011.

    29 MacGregor, History of the World, p. xxv.

    30 William F Ruddiman, ‘The Anthropogenic Greenhouse Era began thousands of years ago’, Climatic Change, vol. 61, no. 3, 2003; Crutzen, ‘Geology of mankind’.

    31 Zalasiewicz, Waters, Williams et al., ‘When did the Anthropocene begin?’.

    32 ‘Destroying insects – Bellows-Syringe’, Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 28 March 1874.

    33 ‘Death to fruit pests and diseases: Experiments with appliances’, Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW), 13 December 1890.

    34 Will Allen, The War on Bugs, Chelsea Green, White River Junction, Vt, 2008.

    35 Michelle Mart (Pennsylvania State University) and Cameron Muir (Australian National University), both former fellows of the Rachel Carson Center, Munich, independently suggested the sprayer. They were both among the group selected to present at the slam, and since they had the same object, they were asked to work together on it.

    36 Michelle Mart & Cameron Muir, ‘Flit sprayer’, Anthropocene Slam presentation, 8 November 2014, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.

    37 Mariann Lloyd-Smith & Bro Sheffield-Brotherton, ‘Children’s environmental health: Intergenerational equity in action – a civil society perspective’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 11, no. 1140, 2008, 190–200.

    38 Philippe Grandjean & Philip J Landrigan, ‘Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity’, Lancet Neurology, vol. 13, no. 3, 2014, 330–8.

    39 Elizabeth A Guillette, Maria Mercedes Meza, Maria Guadalupe Aquilar, Alma Delia Soto & Idalia Enedina Garcia, ‘An anthropological approach to the evaluation of preschool children exposed to pesticides in Mexico’, Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 106, 1998, 347–53.

    40 Robin et al., ‘Three galleries’.

    41 Scherer et al., The Anthropocene Project; see also Robin et al., ‘Three galleries’, esp. p. 215, doi:10.1177/2053019614550533.

    42 Museums and Climate Change Networkwww.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/projects/museums-and-climate-change-network; Collecting the Future event, www.amnh.org/our-research/anthropology/news-events/collecting-the-future; Jennifer Newell, Libby Robin & Kirsten Wehner (eds), Curating the Future,University of Hawaii Press, Hawaii, forthcoming.

    43 http://climarte.org/category/climarte-archive.

    44 www.treasury.gov.au/PublicationsAndMedia/Publications/2015/2015-Intergenerational-Report.

    45 Arjun Appadurai, The Future as a Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition, Verso, London, 2013, p. 286.

    46 ibid.

    47 ibid.

    Brazil scientists releasing genetically modified mosquitoes (Kristv.com)

    Posted: May 01, 2015 7:48 AM BRT – Updated: May 01, 2015 7:48 AM BRT

    By Miranda Leah

    VIDEO

    More than 100-thousand genetically modified mosquitoes were released in Brazil, in part of an effort to battle the ongoing dengue epidemic.

    Oxitec, a global initiative focused on insect control, is responsible for the project in Sao Paulo.

    Oxitec scientists inject the male mosquitoes with a modified gene containing a protein known as TTA.

    When they produce offspring with the dengue-carrying female, the next generation will die before reaching adult phase.

    It claims this method is capable of suppressing the mosquito population in the area by 90-percent.

    Oxitec’s leader of field operations says similar results were seen in the Cayman Islands in 2009, and most recently in Panama.

    Possibilidade de caos social por falta de água em SP mobiliza comando do Exército (Opera Mundi)

    Lúcia Rodrigues | São Paulo – 30/04/2015 – 12h43

    ‘Painel sobre defesa’ organizado pelo Comando Militar do Sudeste tratou possibilidade de capital paulista ficar sem água a partir de julho deste ano como assunto de segurança nacional

    Volume morto na represa Jaguari-Jacareí, no Sistema Cantareira, em janeiro desse ano (Mídia Ninja)

    Por que o Comando Militar do Sudeste (CMSE) está interessado na crise da falta de água em São Paulo?

    A resposta veio na tarde da última terça-feira, 28 de abril, durante o painel organizado pelo Exército, que ocorreu dentro de seu quartel-general no Ibirapuera, zona sul da capital paulista.

    Durante mais de três horas de debate, destinado a oficiais, soldados e alguns professores universitários e simpatizantes dos militares que lotaram o auditório da sede do comando em São Paulo, foi se delineando o real motivo do alto generalato brasileiro estar preocupado com um assunto que aparentemente está fora dos padrões de atuação militar.

    A senha foi dada pelo diretor da Sabesp, Paulo Massato, que ao lado de Anicia Pio, da Fiesp (Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo), e do professor de engenharia da Unicamp, Antonio Carlos Zuffo, traçaram um panorama sobre como a crise hídrica está impactando o Estado paulista.

    Massato foi claro. Se as obras emergenciais que estão sendo feitas pela companhia não derem resultado e se chover pouco, São Paulo ficará sem água a partir de julho deste ano. O cenário descrito pelo dirigente da Sabesp é catastrófico e digno de roteiro de filme de terror.

    “Vai ser o terror. Não vai ter alimentação, não vai ter energia elétrica… Será um cenário de fim de mundo. São milhares de pessoas e o caos social pode se deflagrar. Não será só um problema de desabastecimento de água. Vai ser bem mais sério do que isso…”, enfatiza durante sua intervenção, para na sequência lançar uma súplica de esperança: “Mas espero que isso não aconteça”.

    Ele destaca que na região metropolitana de São Paulo vivem 20 milhões de pessoas, quando o ideal seriam quatro milhões. Destas, segundo Massato, três milhões seriam faveladas que furtariam água. “Furtam água ou pegam sem pagar”, conta, arrancando risos da platéia.

    Blindagem

    Nenhuma crítica, no entanto, foi dirigida ao governador Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) pelos presentes durante todo o evento. Apenas uma pessoa se manifestou durante a fala de Massato, afirmando que faltou planejamento estatal. Mas foi interrompido por uma espécie de mestre de cerimônias do comando militar  que ciceroneava o evento,  pedindo que ele deixasse a questão para as perguntas a serem dirigidas aos debatedores. A pergunta não voltou a ser apresentada.

    Mas o resultado pela falta de investimento e planejamento do governo paulista já provoca calafrios na cervical do establishment do Estado. As cenas de Itu podem se reproduzir em escala exponencial na região metropolitana de São Paulo. E é contra isso que o Exército quer se precaver.

    O dirigente da Sabesp citou um caso que ocorreu na região do Butantã, zona oeste da capital. De acordo com ele, houve uma reação violenta porque a água não chegou em pontos mais altos do bairro. “Não chegou na casa do ‘chefe’, e aí ele mandou incendiar três ônibus. Aqui o pessoal é mais organizado…”

    Em sua intervenção, a dirigente da Fiesp, Anícia Pio, frisa que muito se tem falado sobre a crise de abastecimento da população, mas que não se pode desconsiderar o impacto sobre a indústria paulista. “A crise só não foi maior, porque a crise econômica chegou (para desacelerar a produção).”

    De acordo com ela, o emprego de milhares de pessoas que trabalham no setor está em risco se houver o agravamento da crise hídrica.

    Se depender das projeções apresentadas pelo professor Zuffo, da Unicamp, a situação vai se complicar.  Segundo ele, o ciclo de escassez de água pode durar 20, 30 anos.

    Moradores do Jardim Umuarama, em rodízio não oficializado pelo governo de SP (Sarah Pabst)

    A empresária destaca ainda que não se produz água em fábricas e que, por isso, é preciso investir no reuso e em novas tecnologias de sustentabilidade. E critica o excesso de leis para o setor, que de acordo com ela é superior a mil.

    O comandante militar do Sudeste, general João Camilo Pires de Campos, anfitrião do evento, se sensibilizou com as criticas da representante da Fiesp e prometeu conversar pessoalmente com o presidente da Assembléia Legislativa de São Paulo, deputado Fernando Capez (PSDB),  sobre o excesso de legislação que atrapalha o empresariado.

    Ele também enfatiza que é preciso conscientizar a população sobre a falta de água e lamenta a grande concentração populacional na região. “Era preciso quatro milhões e temos 20 milhões…”, afirma se referindo aos números apresentados por Massato.

    O general Campos destaca a importância da realização de obras, mas adverte que “não se faz engenharia para amanhã”. E cita para a plateia uma expressão do ex-presidente, e também general do Exército, Ernesto Geisel, para definir o que precisa ser feito. “O presidente Geisel dizia que na época de vacas magras é preciso amarrar o bezerro.”

    “Não há solução fácil, o problema é sério”, conclui o comandante.

    Sério e, por isso, tratado como assunto de segurança nacional pelo Exército. O crachá distribuído aos presentes pelo Comando Militar do Sudeste trazia a inscrição: Painel sobre defesa.