Arquivo da tag: Ecologia Política

Ocean’s Future Not So Bleak? Resilience Found in Shelled Plants Exposed to Ocean Acidification (Science Daily)

Apr. 12, 2013 — Marine scientists have long understood the detrimental effect of fossil fuel emissions on marine ecosystems. But a group led by a UC Santa Barbara professor has found a point of resilience in a microscopic shelled plant with a massive environmental impact, which suggests the future of ocean life may not be so bleak.

This shows cells of the coccolithophore species Emiliania huxleyi strain NZEH under present-day, left, and future high, right, carbon dioxide conditions. (Credit: UCSB)

As fossil fuel emissions increase, so does the amount of carbon dioxide oceans absorb and dissolve, lowering their pH levels. “As pH declines, there is this concern that marine species that have shells may start dissolving or may have more difficulty making calcium carbonate, the chalky substance that they use to build shells,” said Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology.

Iglesias-Rodriguez and postdoctoral researcher Bethan Jones, who is now at Rutgers University, led a large-scale study on the effects of ocean acidification on these tiny plants that can only be seen under the microscope. Their research, funded by the European Project on Ocean Acidification, is published in the journal PLoS ONE and breaks with traditional notions about the vitality of calcifiers, or creatures that make shells, in future ocean conditions.

“The story years ago was that ocean acidification was going to be bad, really bad for calcifiers,” said Iglesias-Rodriguez, whose team discovered that one species of the tiny single celled marine coccolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi, actually had bigger shells in high carbon dioxide seawater conditions. While the team acknowledges that calcification tends to decline with acidification, “we now know that there are variable responses in sea corals, in sea urchins, in all shelled organisms that we find in the sea.”

These E. huxleyi are a large army of ocean-regulating shell producers that create oxygen as they process carbon by photosynthesis and fortify the ocean food chain. As one of Earth’s main vaults for environmentally harmful carbon emissions, their survival affects organisms inside and outside the marine system. However, as increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide causes seawater to slide down the pH scale toward acidic levels, this environment could become less hospitable.

The UCSB study incorporated an approach known as shotgun proteomics to uncover how E. huxleyi‘s biochemistry could change in future high carbon dioxide conditions, which were set at four times the current levels for the study. This approach casts a wider investigative net that looks at all changes and influences in the environment as opposed to looking at individual processes like photosynthesis.

Shotgun proteomics examines the type, abundance, and alterations in proteins to understand how a cell’s machinery is conditioned by ocean acidification. “There is no perfect approach,” said Iglesias-Rodriguez. “They all have their caveats, but we think that this is a way of extracting a lot of information from this system.”

To mirror natural ocean conditions, the team used over half a ton of seawater to grow the E. huxleyi and bubbled in carbon dioxide to recreate both present day and high future carbon levels. It took more than six months for the team to grow enough plants to accumulate and analyze sufficient proteins.

The team found that E. huxleyi cells exposed to higher carbon dioxide conditions were larger and contained more shell than those grown in current conditions. However, they also found that these larger cells grow slower than those under current carbon dioxide conditions. Aside from slower growth, the higher carbon dioxide levels did not seem to affect the cells even at the biochemical level, as measured by the shotgun proteomic approach.

“The E. huxleyi increased the amount of calcite they had because they kept calcifying but slowed down division rates,” said Iglesias-Rodriguez. “You get fewer cells but they look as healthy as those under current ocean conditions, so the shells are not simply dissolving away.”

The team stresses that while representatives of this species seem to have biochemical mechanisms to tolerate even very high levels of carbon dioxide, slower growth could become problematic. If other species grow faster, E. huxleyi could be outnumbered in some areas.

“The cells in this experiment seemed to tolerate future ocean conditions,” said Jones. “However, what will happen to this species in the future is still an open question. Perhaps the grow-slow outcome may end up being their downfall as other species could simply outgrow and replace them.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Bethan M. Jones, M. Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez, Paul J. Skipp, Richard J. Edwards, Mervyn J. Greaves, Jeremy R. Young, Henry Elderfield, C. David O’Connor. Responses of the Emiliania huxleyi Proteome to Ocean AcidificationPLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e61868 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0061868

Beyond Capitalism: Alternative and Non-Capitalist Political Ecologies (Living Anthropologically)

March 31, 2012 · In Human Economy – By Jason Antrosio

Update January 2013: Boone Shear and Brian Burke publish Beyond Capitalism: Beyond Critique in Anthropology News. Thanks for a very nice reference to Living Anthropologically! Be sure to check out the other pieces in Anthropology News: Beyond Capitalism issue. I’ve made updates in brackets below and see Anthropology Beyond Capitalism at Anthropology Report for a round-up.

At the Society for Applied Anthropology 2012 meetings in Baltimore, anthropologists Boone Shear and Brian Burke organized a special track of events on alternative political ecologies, grouping together a plenary session, panels, papers, and related events. This post focuses on the opening plenary, featuring talks from Stephen Healy, James Igoe, Kevin St. Martin, and Paige West.

Boone had contacted me about possibly participating in the track after I wrote Anthropology, Moral Optimism, and Capitalism: A Four-Field Manifesto. While this piece was far and away my most viewed blog-post of 2011, almost no one liked my list of ten things that “anthropology urges.” Some people felt it was fine for anthropology to critique but not propose. Others said it would kill capitalism. But Boone said there was nothing non-capitalist about the proposals–that they were proposals to modify or reform, but not to go beyond capitalism, which is what this special track proposes.

At the time I was certainly drawing on critiques of capitalism which stressed a need to move beyond criticisms reproducing notions of capitalist invincibility. My main sources for this re-thinking have been Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Both these books speak of capitalism’s destructive record–but they also speak of new imaginations and desires, of potential and possibility within and alongside capitalism. [Sadly, Trouillot passed away July 2012. See In Memoriam, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, 1949-2012]

I was less familiar with what the alternative political ecologies framework has been drawing upon, the work of J.K. Gibson-Graham The End Of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy and the follow-up A Postcapitalist Politics. From their website Community Economies, J.K Gibson-Graham is the pen-name of Katherine Gibson and the late Julie Graham, feminist political economists and economic geographers based at the University of Western Sydney, Australia and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. [See My Trouble with the Anti-Essentialist Struggle by Elizabeth L. Krause for some similar reflections on juxtaposing a political economy in the tradition of Eric Wolf with that of Gibson-Graham.]

First up at the plenary was Stephen Healy. Healy’s co-authored book, Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities (available May 2013) aims to provide concrete metrics of the community economy. The idea is to “desire and enact post-capitalism in the present moment” and he stressed the use of mapping and linking technologies for self-consciously alternative economies. The book aims to make this re-evaluation of economic life into a habit, providing ethical questions toward the goal of “negotiated interdependence.”

Next was Kevin St. Martin. St. Martin brought in the idea of the commons, but again linked these ideas to the role of mapping and data collection. He initially set up an opposition between Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)–that on their face, the CSF is an effort to establish community and a commons-like fishery, whereas MSP looks like a typical neoliberal project to enclose and privatize marine resouces. However, his own research has mapped a community using GIS technologies, so that in some ways MSP data is actually foundational to the CSF, that by making a map the people were able to “perform the commons.” This is therefore an effort to go “beyond alternative binaries” of markets as automatically opposed to commons. These kinds of ideas have been very important to my own collaborative work with Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, pushing toward ideas of how marketplaces and economic activity can be reconceputalized in the framework of a commons. [See Who’s on the Map? by Janelle Cornwell.]

Paige West followed, speaking about her work on the themes of how new worlds can emerge. However, she then shifted more toward talking about new worlds in the context of social reproduction and academic reproduction. West seemed perhaps to be something of an outlier here–in a later paper titled “Moving Beyond Reform,”Vincent Lyon-Callo would say that assigning West’s book made the students even feel bad about fair trade–and West’s main point seemed to be talking about making our scholarship and theory more accessible. [See Lyon-Callo’s Teaching for Hope?in the Anthropology News: Beyond Capitalism issue.]

In a memorable final quote, West said that “to build new worlds, we have to understand the one we’re in” and she criticized excessive theorizations based solely on inaccessible Western traditions. This point blended quite nicely with a point Daniel Lende would make at 8am the next morning: that we need not just open access to our publications, but open access to our theory (Lende’s comments reminded me of my guest post for Savage MindsThe Bongobongo and Open Access).

The final plenary speaker was James Igoe, who wove together anthropology with his work on anarchist collectives in Detroit. Igoe talked of how anarchism and anthropology go well together: both are concerned with diversity, with challenging authority, and naturalness, with alternative forms of organizing. Igoe also discussed the influence of a “feminist uptake of the Boasian tradition,” an alternative and salutary influence Boas might not have predicted. [See Paige West and James J. Igoe, Imagining and Actualizing an Anthropology of Non-Capitalist Possibilities, which also locates this activity in a Boasian tradition.]

I here hope to have conveyed a selection of ideas and influences from the opening plenary. My follow-up post, Development, Reform, Revolution–and the Bridge, talks about the special track in relation to other panels and papers at the Society for Applied Anthropology 2012 meetings. For published reflections, see the Anthropology News: Beyond Capitalism issue.