Arquivo da tag: Incerteza

Climate Change – Catastrophic or Linear Slow Progression? (Armstrong Economics)

woolyrhinoIndeed, science was turned on its head after a discovery in 1772 near Vilui, Siberia, of an intact frozen woolly rhinoceros, which was followed by the more famous discovery of a frozen mammoth in 1787. You may be shocked, but these discoveries of frozen animals with grass still in their stomachs set in motion these two schools of thought since the evidence implied you could be eating lunch and suddenly find yourself frozen, only to be discovered by posterity.


The discovery of the woolly rhinoceros in 1772, and then frozen mammoths, sparked the imagination that things were not linear after all. These major discoveries truly contributed to the “Age of Enlightenment” where there was a burst of knowledge erupting in every field of inquisition. Such finds of frozen mammoths in Siberia continue to this day. This has challenged theories on both sides of this debate to explain such catastrophic events. These frozen animals in Siberia suggest strange events are possible even in climates that are not that dissimilar from the casts of dead victims who were buried alive after the volcanic eruption of 79 AD at Pompeii in ancient Roman Italy. Animals can be grazing and then suddenly freeze abruptly. That climate change was long before man invented the combustion engine.

Even the field of geology began to create great debates that perhaps the earth simply burst into a catastrophic convulsion and indeed the planet was cyclical — not linear. This view of sequential destructive upheavals at irregular intervals or cycles emerged during the 1700s. This school of thought was perhaps best expressed by a forgotten contributor to the knowledge of mankind, George Hoggart Toulmin in his rare 1785 book, “The Eternity of the World“:

” ••• convulsions and revolutions violent beyond our experience or conception, yet unequal to the destruction of the globe, or the whole of the human species, have both existed and will again exist ••• [terminating] ••• an astonishing succession of ages.”

Id./p3, 110


In 1832, Professor A. Bernhardi argued that the North Polar ice cap had extended into the plains of Germany. To support this theory, he pointed to the existence of huge boulders that have become known as “erratics,” which he suggested were pushed by the advancing ice. This was a shocking theory for it was certainly a nonlinear view of natural history. Bernhardi was thinking out of the box. However, in natural science people listen and review theories unlike in social science where theories are ignored if they challenge what people want to believe. In 1834, Johann von Charpentier (1786-1855) argued that there were deep grooves cut into the Alpine rock concluding, as did Karl Schimper, that they were caused by an advancing Ice Age.

This body of knowledge has been completely ignored by the global warming/climate change religious cult. They know nothing about nature or cycles and they are completely ignorant of history or even that it was the discovery of these ancient creatures who froze with food in their mouths. They cannot explain these events nor the vast amount of knowledge written by people who actually did research instead of trying to cloak an agenda in pretend science.

Glaciologists have their own word, jökulhlaup(from Icelandic), to describe the spectacular outbursts when water builds up behind a glacier and then breaks loose. An example was the 1922 jökulhlaup in Iceland. Some seven cubic kilometers of water, melted by a volcano under a glacier, had rushed out in a few days. Still grander, almost unimaginably events, were floods that had swept across Washington state toward the end of the last ice age when a vast lake dammed behind a glacier broke loose. Catastrophic geologic events are not generally part of the uniformitarian geologist’s thinking. Rather, the normal view tends to be linear including events that are local or regional in size

One example of a regional event would be the 15,000 square miles of the Channeled Scablands in eastern WashingtonInitially, this spectacular erosion was thought to be the product of slow gradual processes. In 1923, JHarlen Bretz presented a paper to the Geological Society of America suggesting the Scablands were eroded catastrophically. During the 1940s, after decades of arguing, geologists admitted that high ridges in the Scablands were the equivalent of the little ripples one sees in mud on a streambed, magnified ten thousand times. Finally, by the 1950s, glaciologists were accustomed to thinking about catastrophic regional floods. The Scablands are now accepted to have been catastrophically eroded by the “Spokane Flood.” This Spokane flood was the result of the breaching of an ice dam which had created glacial Lake Missoula. Now the United States Geological Survey estimates the flood released 500 cubic miles of water, which drained in as little as 48 hours. That rush of water gouged out millions of tons of solid rock.

When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, this too produced a catastrophic process whereby two hundred million cubic yards of material was deposited by volcanic flows at the base of the mountain in just a matter of hours. Then, less than two years later, there was another minor eruption, but this resulted in creating a mudflow, which carved channels through the recently deposited material. These channels, which are 1/40th the size of the Grand Canyon, exposed flat segments between the catastrophically deposited layers. This is what we see between the layers exposed in the walls of the Grand Canyon. What is clear, is that these events were relatively minor compared to a global flood. For example, the eruption of Mount St. Helens contained only 0.27 cubic miles of material compared to other eruptions, which have been as much as 950 cubic miles. That is over 2,000 times the size of Mount St. Helens!

With respect to the Grand Canyon, the specific geologic processes and timing of the formation of the Grand Canyon have always sparked lively debates by geologists. The general scientific consensus, updated at a 2010 conference, maintains that the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon beginning 5 million to 6 million years ago. This general thinking is still linear and by no means catastrophic. The Grand Canyon is believed to have been gradually eroded. However, there is an example cyclical behavior in nature which demonstrates that water can very rapidly erode even solid rock. An example of this took place in the Grand Canyon region back on June 28th, 1983. There emerged an overflow of Lake Powell which required the use of the Glen Canyon Dam’s 40-foot diameter spillway tunnels for the first time. As the volume of water increased, the entire dam started to vibrate and large boulders spewed from one of the spillways. The spillway was immediately shut down and an inspection revealed catastrophic erosion had cut through the three-foot-thick reinforced concrete walls and eroded a hole 40 feet wide, 32 feet deep, and 150 feet long in the sandstone beneath the dam. Nobody thought such catastrophic erosion that quick was even possible.

Some have speculated that the end of the Ice Age resulted in a flood of water which had been contained by an ice dam. Like that of the Scablands, it is possible that a sudden catastrophic release of water originally carved the Grand Canyon. It is clear that both the formation of the Scablands and the evidence of how Mount St Helens unfolded, may be support for the catastrophic formation of events rather than nice, slow, and linear formations.

Then there is the Biblical Account of the Great Flood and Noah. Noah is also considered to be a Prophet of Islam. Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah was based on the biblical story of Genesis. Some Christians were angry because the film strayed from biblical Scripture. The Muslim-majority countries banned the film Noah from screening in theaters because Noah was a prophet of God in the Koran. They considered it to be blasphemous to make a film about a prophet. Many countries banned the film entirely.

The story of Noah predates the Bible. There exists the legend of the Great Flood rooted in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia. The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh dates back nearly 5,000 years which is believed to be perhaps the oldest written tale on Earth. Here too, we find an account of the great sage Utnapishtim, who is warned of an imminent flood to be unleashed by wrathful gods. He builds a vast circular-shaped boat, reinforced with tar and pitch, and carries his relatives, grains along with animals. After enduring days of storms, Utnapishtim, like Noah in Genesis, releases a bird in search of dry land. Since there is evidence that there were survivors in different parts of the world, it is merely logical that there should be more than just one.

Archaeologists generally agree that there was a historical deluge between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago which hit lands ranging from the Black Sea to what many call the cradle of civilization, which was the floodplain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The translation of ancient cuneiform tablets in the 19th century confirmed the Mesopotamian Great Flood myth as an antecedent of the Noah story in the Bible.

The problem that existed was the question of just how “great” was the Great Flood? Was it regional or worldwide? The stories of the Great Flood in Western Culture clearly date back before the Bible. The region implicated has long been considered to be the Black Sea. It has been suggested that the water broke through the land by Istanbul and flooded a fertile valley on the other side much as we just looked at in the Scablands. Robert Ballard, one of the world’s best-known underwater archaeologists, who found the Titanic, set out to test that theory to search for an underwater civilization. He discovered that some four hundred feet below the surface, there was an ancient shoreline, proving that there was a catastrophic event did happen in the Black Sea. By carbon dating shells found along the underwater shoreline, Ballard dated this catastrophic event to around 5,000 BC. This may match around the time when Noah’s flood could have occurred.

Given the fact that for the entire Earth to be submerged for 40 days and 40 nights is impossible for that much water to simply vanish, we are probably looking at a Great Flood that at the very least was regional. However, there are tales of the Great Floodwhich spring from many other sources. Various ancient cultures have their own legends of a Great Flood and salvation. According to Vedic lore, a fish tells the mythic Indian king Manu of a Great Flood that will wipe out humanity. In turn, Manu also builds a ship to withstand the epic rains and is later led to a mountaintop by the same fish.

We also find an Aztec story that tells of a devout couple hiding in the hollow of a vast tree with two ears of corn as divine storms drown the wicked of the land. Creation myths from Egypt to Scandinavia also involve tidal floods of all sorts of substances purging and remaking the earth. The fact that we have Great Flood stories from India is not really a surprise since there was contact between the Middle East and India throughout recorded history. However, the Aztec story lacks the ship, but it still contains punishing the wicked and here there was certainly no direct contact, although there is evidence of cocaine use in Egypt implying there was some trade route probably through island hopping in the Pacific to the shores of India and off to Egypt. Obviously, we cannot rule out that this story of the Great Flood even made it to South America. 

Then again, there is the story of Atlantis – the island that sunk beath the sea. The Atlantic Ocean covers approximately one-fifth of Earth’s surface and second in size only to the Pacific Ocean. The ocean’s name, derived from Greek mythology, means the “Sea of Atlas.” The origin of names is often very interesting clues as well. For example. New Jersey is the English Translation of Latin Nova Caesarea which appeared even on the colonial coins of the 18th century. Hence, the state of New Jersey is named after the Island of Jersey which in turn was named in the honor of Julius Caesar. So we actually have an American state named after the man who changed the world on par with Alexander the Great, for whom Alexandria of Virginia is named after with the location of the famous cemetery for veterans, where John F. Kennedy is buried.

So here the Atlantic Ocean is named after Atlas and the story of Atlantis. The original story of Atlantis comes to us from two Socratic dialogues called Timaeus and Critias, both written about 360 BC by the Greek philosopher Plato. According to the dialogues, Socrates asked three men to meet him: Timaeus of Locri, Hermocrates of Syracuse, and Critias of Athens. Socrates asked the men to tell him stories about how ancient Athens interacted with other states. Critias was the first to tell the story. Critias explained how his grandfather had met with the Athenian lawgiver Solon, who had been to Egypt where priests told the Egyptian story about Atlantis. According to the Egyptians, Solon was told that there was a mighty power based on an island in the Atlantic Ocean. This empire was called Atlantis and it ruled over several other islands and parts of the continents of Africa and Europe.

Atlantis was arranged in concentric rings of alternating water and land. The soil was rich and the engineers were technically advanced. The architecture was said to be extravagant with baths, harbor installations, and barracks. The central plain outside the city was constructed with canals and an elaborate irrigation system. Atlantis was ruled by kings but also had a civil administration. Its military was well organized. Their religious rituals were similar to that of Athens with bull-baiting, sacrifice, and prayer.

Plato told us about the metals found in Atlantis, namely gold, silver, copper, tin and the mysterious Orichalcum. Plato said that the city walls were plated with Orichalcum (Brass). This was a rare alloy metal back then which was found both in Crete as well as in the Andes, in South America. An ancient shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Sicily in 2015 which contained 39 ingots of Orichalcum. Many claimed this proved the story of AtlantisOrichalcum was believed to have been a gold/copper alloy that was cheaper than gold, but twice the value of copper. Of course, Orichalcum was really a copper-tin or copper-zinc brass. We find in Virgil’s Aeneid, the breastplate of Turnus is described as “stiff with gold and white orichalc”.

The monetary reform of Augustus in 23BC reintroduced bronze coinage which had vanished after 84BC. Here we see the introduction of Orichalcum for the Roman sesterius and the dupondius. The Roman As was struck in near pure copper. Therefore, about 300 years after Plato, we do see Orichalcum being introduced as part of the monetary system of Rome. It is clear that Orichalcum was rare at the time Plato wrote this. Consequently, this is similar to the stories of America that there was so much gold, they paved the streets with it.

As the story is told, Atlantis was located in the Atlantic Ocean. There have been bronze-age anchors discovered at the Gates of Hercules (Straights of Gibralter) and many people proclaimed this proved Atlantis was real. However, what these proponents fail to take into account is the Minoans. The Minoans were perhaps the first International Economy. They traded far and wide even with Britain seeking tin to make bronze – henceBronze Age. Their civilization was of the Bronze Age rising civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC – nearly 12,000 years. Their trading range and colonization extended to Spain, Egypt, Israel (Canaan), Syria (Levantine), Greece, Rhodes, and of course to Turkey (Anatolia). Many other cultures referred to them as the people from the islands in the middle of the sea. However, the Minoans had no mineral deposits. They lacked gold as well as silver or even the ability to produce large mining of copper. They appear to have copper mines in Anatolia (Turkey) in colonized cities. What has survived are examples of copper ingots that served as MONEY in trade. Keep in mind that gold at this point was rare, too rare to truly serve as MONEY. It is found largely as jewelry in tombs of royal dignitaries.

The Bronze Age emerged at different times globally appearing in Greece and China around 3,000BC but it came late to Britain reaching there about 1900BC. It is known that copper emerged as a valuable tool in Anatolia (Turkey) as early as 6,500BC, where it began to replace stone in the creation of tools. It was the development of casting copper that also appears to aid the urbanization of man in Mesopotamia. By 3,000BC, copper is in wide use throughout the Middle East and starts to move up into Europe. Copper in its pure stage appears first, and tin is eventually added creating actual bronze where a bronze sword would break a copper sword. It was this addition of tin that really propelled the transition of copper to bronze and the tin was coming from England where vast deposits existed at Cornwall. We know that the Minoans traveled into the Atlantic for trade. Anchors are not conclusive evidence of Atlantis.

As the legend unfolds, Atlantis waged an unprovoked imperialistic war on the remainder of Asia and Europe. When Atlantis attacked, Athens showed its excellence as the leader of the Greeks, the much smaller city-state the only power to stand against Atlantis. Alone, Athens triumphed over the invading Atlantean forces, defeating the enemy, preventing the free from being enslaved, and freeing those who had been enslaved. This part may certainly be embellished and remains doubtful at best. However, following this battle, there were violent earthquakes and floods, and Atlantis sank into the sea, and all the Athenian warriors were swallowed up by the earth. This appears to be almost certainly a fiction based on some ancient political realities. Still, the explosive disappearance of an island some have argued is a reference to the eruption of MinoanSantorini. The story of Atlantis does closely correlate with Plato’s notions of The Republic examining the deteriorating cycle of life in a state.


There have been theories that Atlantiswas the Azores, and still, others argue it was actually South America. That would explain to some extent the cocaine mummies in Egypt. Yet despite all these theories, usually, when there is an ancient story, despite embellishment, there is often a grain of truth hidden deep within. In this case, Atlantis may not have completely submerged, but it could have partially submerged from an earthquake at least where some people survived. Survivors could have made to either the Americas or to Africa/Europe. What is clear, is that a sudden event could have sent a  tsunami into the Mediterranean which then broke the land mass at Istanbul and flooded the valley below transforming this region into the Black Sea becoming the story of Noah.

We also have evidence which has surfaced that the Earth was struck by a comet around 12,800 years ago. Scientific American has published that sediments from six sites across North America—Murray Springs, Ariz.; Bull Creek, Okla.; Gainey, Mich.; Topper, S.C.; Lake Hind, Manitoba; and Chobot, Alberta, have yielded tiny diamonds, which only occur in sediment exposed to extreme temperatures and pressures. The evidence surfacing implies that the Earth moved into an Ice Age killing off large mammals and setting the course for Global Cooling for the next 1300 years. This may indeed explain that catastrophic freezing of Wooly Mammoths in Siberia. Such an event could have also been responsible for the legend of Atlantis where the survivors migrated taking their stories with them.

There is also evidence surfacing from stone carvings at one of the oldest sites recorded located in Anatolia (Turkey). Using a computer programme to show where the constellations would have appeared above Turkey thousands of years ago, researchers were able to pinpoint the comet strike to 10,950BC, the exact time the Younger Dryas,which was was a return to glacial conditions and Global Cooling which temporarily reversed the gradual climatic warming after the Last Glacial Maximum that began to recede around 20,000 BC, utilizing ice core data from Greenland.

Now, there is a very big asteroid which passed by the Earth on September 16th, 2013. What is most disturbing is the fact that its cycle is 19 years so it will return in 2032. Astronomers have not been able to swear it will not hit the Earth on the next pass in 2032. It was discovered by Ukrainian astronomers with just 10 days to go back in 2013.  The 2013 pass was only a distance of 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers). If anything alters its orbit, then it will get closer and closer. It just so happens to line up on a cyclical basis that suggests we should begin to look at how to deflect asteroids and soon.

It definitely appears that catastrophic cooling may also be linked to the Earth being struck by a meteor, asteroids, or a comet. We are clearly headed into a period of Global Cooling and this will get worse as we head into 2032. The question becomes: Is our model also reflecting that it is once again time for an Earth change caused by an asteroid encounter? Such events are not DOOMSDAY and the end of the world. They do seem to be regional. However, a comet striking in North America would have altered the comet freezing animals in Siberia.

If there is a tiny element of truth in the story of Atlantis, the one thing it certainly proves is clear – there are ALWAYS survivors. Based upon a review of the history of civilization as well as climate, what resonates profoundly is that events follow the cyclical model of catastrophic occurrences rather than the linear steady slow progression of evolution.


¿Adiós al Servicio Meteorológico? Un biólogo argentino predice el clima estudiando hormigas (y acierta) (La Nación)

Jorge Finardi anticipa lluvias y tormentas a partir del comportamiento de insectos


JUEVES 26 DE ENERO DE 2017 • 17:44

¿Chau Servicio Meteorológico? El biólogo argentino que predice el clima estudiando hormigas

¿Chau Servicio Meteorológico? El biólogo argentino que predice el clima estudiando hormigas. Foto: Archivo 

Jorge Finardi predice el clima a través de las hormigas. Estudia sus movimientos, los registra, los compara y llega a la conclusión, por ejemplo, de que mañana a la tarde lloverá. Y acierta. Esta semana, Finardi anticipó con su método el calor sofocante del lunes, la tormenta del martes, y la caída de la temperatura del miércoles. Nada mal.

Finardi es químico, biólogo, y lleva adelante la cuenta de Twitter @GeorgeClimaPron. En ella, comunica sus pronósticos climatológicos. En una entrevista con LA NACION, explica su sistema.

-¿Cómo funciona tu método de análisis?

-En primer lugar, determino el grado de actividad de las hormigas en una escala del 1 al 10. Para armar la escala tengo en cuenta la cantidad de interacciones entre las hormigas, el número de hormigas involucradas, y el tipo y tamaño de carga que llevan, además, de la clase de hormiga que trabaja.

-¿Y de qué manera se relaciona con el clima? ¿Más actividad es indicativa de lluvia?

-En parte sí, pero depende de la carga que lleven. Por ejemplo, cuando las hormigas llevan palitos y barritas, es porque tienen que fortalecer el hormiguero, debido a que se aproxima lluvia o frío. Cuando hay movilización de tierra es porque se viene una lluvia fuerte. Cuando llevan cereal, viene frío, porque el cereal fermenta dentro del hormiguero y produce calor para que nazcan los hongos que ellas comen.

Para las altas temperaturas, por otro lado, se acondicionan los túneles: las hormigas empiezan a abrir “chimeneas”, que son como agujeritos esparcidos dentro del hormiguero, que puede llegar a tener metros de profundidad. Cuando pasa eso, se viene una ola de calor.

-¿Cómo te interesaste por el tema?

-Desde los tres años me paso horas mirando las hormigas y todo tipo de insectos. Por otro lado, mi profesión me ayudó a profundizar estos temas, y también a hablar con gente de edad avanzada que vive en el campo y no se fija en los pronósticos. No los necesita. Así avancé. Así y con un poco de prueba y error. Al principio introduje hormigas en un terrario para poder observarlas más cómodo. Pero ellas se comportaban de otra manera, por el aislamiento. Ahora las sigo con una cámara.

-¿Además de las hormigas, analizás otros insectos?

-Sí. Las arañas, por ejemplo, tienen la capacidad de detectar actividad eléctrica, cuando aparecen y están muy activas. Las libélulas pueden anticipar una tormenta o viento. Las cigarras anuncian calor. Los gallos, cuando cantan a media noche, anuncian neblinas. También hay que prestar atención a las hormigas cuando están desorientadas, porque pueden captar actividad sísmica a grandes distancias.

-¿Este tipo de análisis es científico?

-No. Hay que destacar que el método no es científico, no es positivista, pero sí es cualitativo, experimental y observacional. Y sirve. Los hombres estamos acá desde el período cuaternario, pero las hormigas, por ejemplo, están desde la época de los dinosaurios. Están muy adaptadas, son muy sensibles a los cambios de ambiente. Y la naturaleza, así, nos habla, nos presenta síntomas. Hay que saber leerlos.

Com 516 milímetros de chuva em 5 anos, Ceará tem pior seca desde 1910 (G1)

09/09/2016 09h20 – Atualizado em 09/09/2016 11h57

Previsão para 2017 ainda é indefinida devido ao “Oceano Pacífico Neutro”.
Águas do Açude Orós estão sendo transferidas para o Castanhão.

Do G1 CE com informações da TV Verdes Mares


Levantamento feito pela Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme) nesta quinta-feira (8) mostra que nos últimos cinco anos, de 2012 a 2016, foram apenas 516 milímetros de chuva, em média, no Ceará. O índice é o menor desde 1910.

De acordo com o meteorologista Davi Ferran, vai ser preciso conviver com a incerteza pelos próximos meses, já que ainda é cedo pra afirmar se 2017 vai trazer chuva ou não.

Ano Chuva (mm)
2012 388
2013 552
2014 565
2015 524
2016 550
Média 516
Fonte: Funceme

“No período chuvoso do ano que vem, ou seja, março, abril e maio, que é o período chuvoso principal, a maior probabilidade é que o Oceano Pacífico não tenha El Niño nem La Niña. Vamos ter o Oceano Pacífico neutro. Em anos de Oceano Pacífico neutro, a probabilidade de chuvas no Ceará depende mais fortemente do Atlântico. Então a previsão vai ser divulgada somente em janeiro”, explica.

Enquanto isso, segundo a Companhia de Gestão de Recursos Hídricos (Cogerh), os reservatórios secam cada vez mais. No momento, o nível médio dos 153 açudes monitorados pela Cogerh é de apenas 9,4% do volume total.O “Gigante” Castanhão, responsável por abastecer toda a Região Metropolitana de Fortaleza, está praticamente sem água. Há apenas sete anos, ele chegou a inundar a cidade de Jaguaribara com a enorme vazão das comportas.

Hoje, a Cogerh diz que o maior açude do Ceará está com apenas 6% da capacidade. Bem perto dele, o Açude Orós, também na Região Jaguaribana, sangrou em 2004 e 2008. Na época, virou até atração turística no Centro Sul do Estado.

Agora em 2016, o Orós aparece nesse cenário de seca em forma de ajuda. Desde julho, as águas do açude estão sendo transferidas para o Castanhão. Segundo a Cogerh, essa água deve chegar às residências da Região Metropolitana de Fortaleza em setembro, e garantir o abastecimento pelo menos durante esse período  de crise hídrica.

“Nossa programação é até o final de janeiro. Ou seja, até janeiro vamos estar operando de forma integrada os dois reservatórios. O caso da Região Metropolitana, ela está totalmente integrada à Região do Jaguaribe por dois grandes canais: o do Trabalhador e Eixão das Águas. Então é o caso de uma bacia hoje tem uma maior dependência de outra região, de outra bacia hidrográfica, mas elas estão integradas. Esse é o caso que eu diria mais emblemática no Estado”, explica o presidente da Cogerh, João Lúcio Farias.

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Uncertainty in Brazil, Vitality in Its Art (New York Times)

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Biennial art exhibitions were founded in the 1890s at almost the same time as the Olympics, and they serve a similar purpose: to bring attention to the cities that host them and the nations that participate in them. But where the Olympics are still a rather contained affair, art biennials are proliferating like art fairs, becoming homogeneous and forgettable.

The 32nd São Paulo Biennial, through Dec. 11, consciously tries to buck this trend by positioning itself as locally sensitive and globally pertinent. And its timing is perfect. On the heels of the Rio Olympics and the impeachment of Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff, the exhibition embraces, rather than denies, the problems of the region.

Organized by Jochen Volz, the show includes 81 artists from 33 countries. Its title, “Incerteza Viva” — translated as “Live Uncertainty” — refers to political instability, climate change, huge disparities of wealth, migration and other international problems, but also suggests art’s ability to thrive in the unknown and suggest visionary solutions.

This is particularly true on the first floor of the pavilion built by Oscar Niemeyer, which showcases Brazilian art with an international context: The artist Bené Fonteles has erected a “terreiro,” or ceremonial structure made of clay with a thatched roof, in an attempt to connect traditional Brazilian practices with contemporary art ones.

Objects used by an indigenous shaman sit alongside photos of Marcel Duchamp and John Lennon and Yoko Ono and a copy of João Guimarães-Rosa’s novel “Grande Sertão: Veredas” (1956) — in English, it was “The Devil to Pay in the Backlands”— a masterpiece of modern Brazilian literature. (Incorporating archaic dialects, it has been compared to Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake.”)

One of the most beautiful works in the Biennial is Jonathas de Andrade’s “The Fish” (2016), in which he filmed fishermen in the mangroves of northeast Brazil who still use traditional methods like nets and harpoons. For the video, Mr. de Andrade had the fishermen hold a caught fish to their chests, as if cradling a baby, until it takes its last breath.

At the São Paulo Biennial, the artist Bené Fonteles has erected a “terreiro,” or ceremonial structure made of clay with a thatched roof, in an attempt to connect traditional Brazilian practices with contemporary art ones.Credit Leo Eloy/Estúdio Garagem/Fundação Bienal de São Paulo. 

The video is a shockingly intimate depiction of life, death and the relationship of predator and prey — but also a reminder of our connection with other species — a fact that gets lost in the hyper-industrialized world.

The Brazilian director Leon Hirszman’s films from the 1970s documenting rural laborers singing as they work expand upon this idea. Mr. Hirszman describes the songs, which relieved boredom and shaped the rhythm and movements of the work, as “endangered” cultural products. You can’t sing, after all, over the sounds of industrial machines — or in your corporate cubicle.

Folk art and craft-based practices, often seen as an antidote to digital culture and social media, have been very popular on the biennial circuit in recent years. Folk-inspired art here includes Gilvan Samico’s prints influenced by mythology and carving in northeastern Brazil, and the visionary 1950s and ’60s work by Oyvind Fahlstrom, a Swedish multimedia artist who championed concrete poetry — a visual way of finding liberation through patterns of words and typography. The neo-hippie installation by Wlademir Dias-Pino, “Brazilian Visual Encyclopedia” (1970-2016), is a wild compendium of collages made with found materials.

The Biennial organizers stress that “Live Uncertainty” was intended to interact with the surrounding Ibirapuera Park, a habitat for indigenous tribes before the Europeans arrived. But even nature is a contested term these days, especially in Brazil, where the rain forest and grasslands were seen as obstacles to be conquered. Even Niemeyer, the architect whose futuristic buildings are scattered throughout the park, originally planned to pave over the area in an attempt to tame (if symbolically) Brazil’s unruly wilderness.

The exhibition includes installations by Pia Lindman and Ruth Ewan, which incorporate live plants, and Eduardo Navarro’s sculptural megaphone, which twists out the window to let visitors talk to a palm tree. Brazilian wood — often seen as “exotic” and hence harvested to the brink of extinction — earns a category of the Biennial unto itself.

Carolina Caycedo’s excellent video looks at how river development has affected communities in Brazil’s interior. In Rachel Rose’s video, an astronaut, David Wolf, describes how it’s harder to acclimate to Earth, with its overwhelming smells of grass and air, and gravity, than to outer space.

Jochen Volz, the curator of the São Paulo Biennial, which continues through Dec. 11.CreditNelson Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 


What started in the ’90s as “identity art,” the idea that an individual’s identity consists of multiple factors, including gender, race, ethnicity, class and sexuality, has now blossomed into investigations of “the post-human,” which could mean a robot or an extraterrestrial.

Lyle Ashton Harris provides some grounding of these cultural shifts in his beautiful assemblage of photographs from this American artist’s journals intertwined with video. Much of his archive is from the late ’80s and ’90s, coinciding with landmark events such as the Black Popular Culture Conference in 1991, the truce between the Crips and the Bloods in 1992 and the Black Nations/Queer Nations conference in 1995.

Cecilia Bengolea and Jeremy Deller’s video highlights a competitive dancer in Jamaican dancehall music culture, echoing the importance of popular music and identity that reverberates throughout the show.

Another tic of biennials is their expansionist tendency: Tired of the white cube, artists and curators would rather inhabit shops, hospitals, schools. This seems like a democratic move, but it often functions in just the opposite way, expending a huge amount of viewers’ time and energy.

“Live Uncertainty” remains mostly — thankfully — in the pavilion. One outside work included William Pope.L’s roving performance with a small contingent of local dancers, which took place over three days. Performers moved through the city in costumes inspired by debutante festivals. They made a sharp contrast with demonstrators who were springing up, too, protesting the president’s impeachment.

Biennials are now given the impossible task of making sense not only of contemporary art but also contemporary history, politics, philosophy, economics, the environment and beyond — all the while remaining sensitive to local culture and cognizant of global developments.

With this tall order, “Live Uncertainty” does an admirable balancing act, arguing for the vitality of indigenous knowledge and experience, and of wisdom drawn from the people who inhabited this hemisphere long before Europeans arrived. Given the current climate of uncertainty in Brazil, this makes more than a little good sense.

Seca se intensifica com alto risco para cerca de 90 municípios do semiárido brasileiro (CEMADEN)

JC, 5498, 8 de setembro de 2016

As chuvas de setembro a novembro devem se tornar mais escassas na Zona da Mata dos Estados de Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba e Rio Grande do Norte. Há poucas chances de reversão do quadro crítico dos municípios impactados pela seca, conforme o Relatório da Seca no Semiárido Brasileiro e Impactos divulgado, hoje, pelo Cemaden

O período chuvoso, entre abril e julho, apresentou um déficit pluviométrico, agravado no mês de agosto,  com o registro de acumulados de chuva inferiores a 60 mm nos municípios da maior parte da região Nordeste. Esses municípios, principalmente na zona da mata, foram caracterizados por condições de  “ Muito Seco”.

A avaliação do risco agroclimático (balanço hídrico) para o ano hidrológico 2015/2016 – referente ao período de outubro de 2015 a 31 de agosto de 2016- indicou que cerca de 90 municípios foram classificados como de risco “Alto”, aos que apresentaram entre 60 a 75 dias com déficit hídrico  e  de “Muito Alto”, para os municípios com mais de 75 dias com o déficit hídrico.

O trimestre agosto -setembro-outubro de 2016 pode marcar a transição para um episódio de La Niña, provavelmente com fraca intensidade. A evolução climatológica (histórica) das precipitações no trimestre Setembro-Outubro-Novembro/2016 indica que as chuvas devem se tornar mais escassas na Zona da Mata dos Estados de Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba e Rio Grande do Norte. Portanto, para os municípios impactados pela seca, nestes Estados, há poucas chances de reversão do quadro crítico.

“A intensidade dos impactos da seca atingem as atividades agrícolas e/ou pastagens. A situação de seca intensificou-se, principalmente, na parte leste da Região Semiárida, atingindo os municípios inseridos nos estados do Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba e Pernambuco.”, destaca o coordenador-geral do Cemaden, meteorologista Marcelo Seluchi. Ele explica que essa seca é o reflexo dos acumulados de chuva inferiores a média dos meses da estação chuvosa- entre os meses de abril a julho – conforme o sensoriamento remoto com base no índice de suprimento de água para a vegetação (VSWI).

Essa análise foi divulgada, hoje,  no Boletim da Seca e Impactos no Semiárido Brasileiro de Agosto 2016, elaborado pelo Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (Cemaden), do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações.

No relatório, de acordo com o índice de suprimento de água para a vegetação (VSWI), 981 municípios apresentaram pelo menos 50% de suas áreas impactadas no mês de agosto de 2016. “ A estação chuvosa foi encerrada no ultimo mês de julho e, em razão disso, o estresse vegetativo atual é esperado.”, explica Seluchi.  Considerando as poucas regiões onde o calendário de plantio se estende até o mês de junho,  o ciclo fenológico pode ainda estar em curso nos municípios inseridos no Estado de Alagoas, região leste da Bahia, Pernambuco e Sergipe. Nessa região, as áreas impactadas pela seca somam cerca de 9 milhões de hectares.

As previsões em escala de médio prazo (até 21 de agosto) indicam condições favoráveis para a ocorrência de precipitações no litoral da Bahia, ao sul de Salvador. A previsão climática sazonal de chuva (MCTIC) para setembro-outubro e novembro de 2016 mostra, para toda a região Nordeste do País, uma previsão na qual os três cenários (acima-dentro-abaixo da média) são igualmente prováveis, indicando a incerteza associada a esta previsão.

Assessoria de Comunicação do Cemaden

Global climate models do not easily downscale for regional predictions (Science Daily)

August 24, 2016
Penn State
One size does not always fit all, especially when it comes to global climate models, according to climate researchers who caution users of climate model projections to take into account the increased uncertainties in assessing local climate scenarios.

One size does not always fit all, especially when it comes to global climate models, according to Penn State climate researchers.

“The impacts of climate change rightfully concern policy makers and stakeholders who need to make decisions about how to cope with a changing climate,” said Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and director, Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, Penn State. “They often rely upon climate model projections at regional and local scales in their decision making.”

Zhang and Michael Mann, Distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director, Earth System Science Center, were concerned that the direct use of climate model output at local or even regional scales could produce inaccurate information. They focused on two key climate variables, temperature and precipitation.

They found that projections of temperature changes with global climate models became increasingly uncertain at scales below roughly 600 horizontal miles, a distance equivalent to the combined widths of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. While climate models might provide useful information about the overall warming expected for, say, the Midwest, predicting the difference between the warming of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh might prove futile.

Regional changes in precipitation were even more challenging to predict, with estimates becoming highly uncertain at scales below roughly 1200 miles, equivalent to the combined width of all the states from the Atlantic Ocean through New Jersey across Nebraska. The difference between changing rainfall totals in Philadelphia and Omaha due to global warming, for example, would be difficult to assess. The researchers report the results of their study in the August issue of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

“Policy makers and stakeholders use information from these models to inform their decisions,” said Mann. “It is crucial they understand the limitation in the information the model projections can provide at local scales.”

Climate models provide useful predictions of the overall warming of the globe and the largest-scale shifts in patterns of rainfall and drought, but are considerably more hard pressed to predict, for example, whether New York City will become wetter or drier, or to deal with the effects of mountain ranges like the Rocky Mountains on regional weather patterns.

“Climate models can meaningfully project the overall global increase in warmth, rises in sea level and very large-scale changes in rainfall patterns,” said Zhang. “But they are uncertain about the potential significant ramifications on society in any specific location.”

The researchers believe that further research may lead to a reduction in the uncertainties. They caution users of climate model projections to take into account the increased uncertainties in assessing local climate scenarios.

“Uncertainty is hardly a reason for inaction,” said Mann. “Moreover, uncertainty can cut both ways, and we must be cognizant of the possibility that impacts in many regions could be considerably greater and more costly than climate model projections suggest.”

Cobrada pelo mau tempo, Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral diz que não falhou (O Globo)

Representantes da organização garantem que não houve falhas em sua operação

Apesar da operação da Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral os jogos do Rio tem registrado mau tempo, com provas tendo que ser adiadas Foto: Jorge William / Agência O Globo

Apesar da operação da Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral os jogos do Rio tem registrado mau tempo, com provas tendo que ser adiadas – Jorge William / Agência O Globo


10/08/2016 15:53 / atualizado 10/08/2016 16:17

RIO – Regatas na Lagoa adiadas, sessões de tênis remarcadas, transtornos provocados por ressacas que invadem instalações na Praia de Copacabana… Credenciados pelo Comitê Organizador Rio-2016 para acompanhar as condições climáticas durante a Olimpíada, os integrantes da Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral, que garantem ter poder sobrenatural para controlar o tempo, afirmam que não houve falhas na operação espiritual para garantir o sucesso da Olimpíada.

A médium Adelaide Scritori, que afirma incorporar o espírito do Cacique Cobra Coral, já circulou várias vezes pelo Parque Olímpico. O porta-voz da fundação, Osmar Santos, garante que o desempenho até agora da entidade é digno de medalha de ouro. Segundo ele, as prioridades foram direcionar o tempo para garantir a cerimônia de abertura sem chuvas e que os ventos soprassem de forma a a garantir que as regatas da Baía de Guanabara ocorressem em raias sem lixo:

Segundo Osmar, no domingo, quando uma forte ventania atingiu a cidade causando estragos e adiando provas do remo, Adelaide sequer estava no Rio. A médium, segundo ele, estaria na Região Serrana, encerrando a operação da Cerimônia de Abertura. O porta voz da médium argumenta que as demandas espirtuais da entidade são inúmeras e não se limitam a Olimpíada

– O grande legado nosso da cerimônia de abertura foi o desvio da Frente Fria que estava no Rio e foi desviada para Minas erais onde despejou 30 milímetros de chuva em pleno agosto no Vale do Jequitinonha. Isso para o cacique é muito mais importante. Agora vamos abrir um corredor para as frentes entrarem pelo continente e apagarem as queimadas no Pantanal – disse Osmar.

De acordo com Osmar, o mau tempo de hoje está relacionado com o atraso na entrada da frente fria na cidade para garantir a limpeza da Baía

Essa não é a primeira vez que a Fundação atua numa Olimpíada. Repórteres do GLOBO encontraram integrantes da Fundação em Londres, em 2012, credenciados inclusive para uma visita da presidente afastada Dilma Roousseff durante um evento oficial do Comitê Olímpico do Brasil. Adelaide também estava em Copenhague (Dinamarca) em 2009 quando o Rio foi eleito cidade sede da Olimpíada de 2016.

A Fundação também, é chamada para outros eventos como o Réveillon e o Rock in Rio. Nas últimas edições das Olimpíadas, no entanto, chegou a chover forte alguns dias. A Fundação Cacique Cobra Coral nas duas ocasiões alegou que ficou retida antes de chegar à Cidade do Rock por problemas no credenciamento do carro que transportava os integrantes.

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Cemaden completa cinco anos com o monitoramento de 957 municípios do País (MCTI)

JC, 5449, 1 de julho de 2016

Mais de R$ 72 milhões já foram investidos em radares meteorológicos de alta resolução para monitoramento de áreas de risco. Além disso, o Cemaden desenvolve tecnologia para previsão de quebra de safra no semiárido

O Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (Cemaden) completa cinco anos com o monitoramento de áreas de risco em 957 municípios do País. Um trabalho feito 24 horas por dia, sem interrupção. As informações fornecidas por radares meteorológicos de alta tecnologia já permitiram a emissão de 5,5 mil alertas para a Defesa Civil. Segundo o diretor do Cemaden, Osvaldo Moraes, 12 novos equipamentos serão adquiridos, o que vai aumentar a confiabilidade dos alertas.

“Os radares serão instalados nas áreas que atualmente não estão cobertas, o que fará com que o Brasil possua um dos mais avançados sistemas de monitoramento de risco de ocorrência de desastres naturais do mundo”, afirma Moraes.

Vinculado ao Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações, o Cemaden investiu R$ 72 milhões em nove radares meteorológicos, equipamentos no estado da arte para aplicações voltadas ao monitoramento de desastres naturais instalados em Petrolina (PE), Natal (RN), Maceió (AL), Salvador (BA), Almenara (MG), Três Marias (MG), São Francisco (MG), Santa Teresa (ES) e Jaraguari (MS). Com eles, o Cemaden consegue mensurar a quantidade de chuvas, fazer uma previsão de tempo de curtíssimo prazo e antecipar a emissão de alertas para municípios com risco de desastres naturais. Os dados estão disponíveis em tempo real para acesso público.

“Esses radares possuem a capacidade de identificar e localizar as nuvens presentes dentro da área de cobertura do equipamento, além de medir a quantidade de chuva em um determinado local. O uso permite que os operadores do Cemaden identifiquem os locais onde as condições meteorológicas aumentam o risco de desastres naturais. Com isso, podemos emitir alertas antecipados sobre o risco de deslizamentos de terra e enchentes, por exemplo, preservando as vidas das pessoas expostas ao risco”, explica o coordenador do projeto Radares Meteorológicos do Cemaden, Carlos Frederico de Angelis.

Ele ressalta que a unidade implantada em Maceió, por exemplo, possui tecnologia e sensibilidade para levantar dados elaborados sobre chuvas num raio de 400 quilômetros de distância. Segundo Angelis, o equipamento é capaz de antecipar os riscos de desastres provocados por fenômenos meteorológicos com até seis horas de antecedência.

“Um desastre natural afeta não só a vida das pessoas que estão em áreas de risco como também a infraestrutura e a economia, como o agronegócio, por exemplo. Os impactos são ainda maiores para os pequenos produtores”, diz Angelis.

Ciência Cidadã

A quebra de safras agrícolas também está no radar do Cemaden, que vai lançar, no segundo semestre, o Sistema de Previsão de Riscos de Colapso de Safras no Semiárido Brasileiro com previsões de risco de colapso de safras geradas a partir de estimativas de modelos agrometeorológicos; dados públicos de safras típicas (milho, mandioca, feijão, arroz e sorgo) por região; e previsão do tempo para um período de 15 a 45 dias.

“A implantação deste projeto contempla o uso de modelos agrometeorológicos integrados a uma rede de monitoramento de dados (meteorológicos, fenológicos, práticas de manejo e informações do solo), contribuindo para a geração de indicadores para o monitoramento da seca, previsão e manejo dos riscos de colapso de safras e aprimoramento dos sistemas de alerta”, explica o diretor do Cemaden.

Além disso, o sistema vai contar com as informações enviadas pelos próprios produtores por meio de aplicativo desenvolvido em parceria com o Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia para Mudanças Climáticas (INCT) do MCTIC e o International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Iiasa), da Áustria.

Disponibilizado para aparelhos celulares desde o início do ano, o AgriSupport permite o registro fotográfico georreferenciado de áreas plantadas e a coleta de informações sobre plantios realizados pelos pequenos produtores do semiárido.

No futuro, o monitoramento das safras será estendido para outros cultivos em outras regiões do País.


2016 é um dos anos mais secos do Ceará e o pior começa agora (O Povo)

CHUVA 14/06/2016

Os meteorologistas afirmam que não há previsão de precipitações para os últimos seis meses do ano 

Igor Cavalcante

Os próximos meses serão de mais escassez hídrica para o Ceará. Quando o assunto é chuva, o segundo semestre é o mais crítico para o Estado. As precipitações que ainda acontecem são causadas por instabilidades meteorológicas e não devem impactar no cenário de estiagem.

Em coletiva de imprensa ontem, a Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme) informou que, de 2012 para cá, a estiagem deste ano é a segunda pior. Em algumas regiões não choveu nem metade do esperado. O cenário faz de 2016 um dos dez anos mais secos da história.

Contudo, monitoramento do Oceano Pacífico indica que águas estão resfriando. É um sinal de que precipitações podem aumentar no próximo ano. O aquecimento oceânico, fenômeno conhecido como El Niño, impacta na formação da Zona de Convergência Intertropical, principal responsável pelas chuvas na costa cearense. Quando parte do Pacífico está aquecida, as nuvens tendem a se formar e precipitar no mar.

De acordo com Eduardo Sávio Martins, presidente da Funceme, ainda é cedo para garantir boa quadra chuvosa para 2017. “É um aspecto positivo, mas temos de aguardar como vai ser o padrão desse resfriamento”, pondera.

O meteorologista Raul Fritz também é cauteloso quanto às previsões. Segundo ele, mesmo num cenário em que não haja El Niño, bom inverno é incerto.

A preocupação dos meteorologistas é com os meses até a próxima quadra chuvosa.. “A gente tem certeza da chuva no primeiro semestre e certeza de que não chove no segundo semestre”, cita o presidente da Funceme. Historicamente, mais de 90% do volume anual de chuva no Estado acontece no primeiro semestre.

Abaixo do esperado

Também foram as temperaturas elevadas das águas do Pacífico que contribuíram para as poucas precipitações no Estado. Conforme O POVO havia adiantado na edição do último dia 1°, a quadra chuvosa deste ano terminou como a segunda pior desde 2012, quando começou a sequência de cinco anos de estiagem.

Entre fevereiro e maio deste ano, as chuvas ficaram 45,2% abaixo do esperado. Fevereiro foi o período mais crítico, quando o volume no Estado ficou 55,3% abaixo da expectativa. Os meses de março e abril — historicamente de mais chuva — também tiveram precipitações inferiores à média.

As regiões Jaguaribana e do Sertão dos Inhamuns foram as de maior escassez. Nos municípios, as chuvas sequer atingiram metade do esperado, ficando 54,5% e 52,3% abaixo da média, respectivamente.

Segundo o presidente da Funceme, desde o início do ano, o Estado trabalha com o cenário da seca e promove ações para garantir licitações de poços e adutoras emergenciais na tentativa de suprir a necessidade hídrica do Interior.

Saiba mais 

Uma das alternativas para amenizar a escassez hídrica, o Projeto de Integração do rio São Francisco será concluído em dezembro, com previsão de abastecer os reservatórios em janeiro do próximo ano.

No último fim de semana, comitiva do Ministério da Integração vistoriou os eixos Norte e Leste do Projeto. Além do Ceará, Pernambuco e Paraíba devem ser beneficiados a partir de 2017.

Mudanças climáticas podem levar à exclusão de espécies arbóreas em áreas úmidas (INPA)

JC 5423, 24 de maio de 2016

Alterações na composição de espécies vegetais poderão trazer implicações para toda a cadeia alimentar, incluindo o homem

Cheias e secas extremas e subsequentes, como essas que os rios da Amazônia vêm sofrendo nas duas últimas décadas, podem levar à exclusão de espécies de árvores e à colonização por outras espécies menos tolerantes à inundação.

É o que apontam estudos desenvolvidos por pesquisadores associados ao Grupo Ecologia, Monitoramento e Uso Sustentável de Áreas Úmidas (Maua) do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (Inpa/MCTI), em Manaus, que participa, desde 2013, do Programa de Pesquisas Ecológicas de Longa Duração (Peld), por meio do Peld-Maua.

Durante a década de 1970, por exemplo, os níveis máximos anuais do rio Negro ficaram alguns metros acima do valor médio da enchente, e a descida das águas não foi intensa, resultando na inundação de várias populações de plantas durante anos consecutivos. Isso causou a exclusão de muitas espécies arbustivas e arbóreas nas baixas topografias de igapós na região da Amazônia Central, como é o caso de macacarecuia (Eschweilera tenuifolia).

“Acredita-se que esses fenômenos podem ser consequência das mudanças climáticas em curso, mas podem também derivar de variações naturais do ciclo hidrológico. Os estudos realizados no âmbito do Peld-Maua visam confirmar a origem desses fenômenos utilizando informações sobre o crescimento da vegetação”, adianta a coordenadora do Peld-Maua, a pesquisadora do Inpa Maria Teresa Fernandez Piedade.

Anos de secas ou cheias consecutivas podem ultrapassar a capacidade adaptativa das espécies de árvores, especialmente de populações estabelecidas nos extremos do ótimo de distribuição no gradiente inundável (composição de diferentes níveis de inundação a que estão sujeitas as áreas alagáveis).

Segundo Piedade, como a vegetação sustenta a fauna desses ambientes, mudanças na composição de espécies vegetais poderão trazer implicações para toda a cadeia alimentar, incluindo o homem. “A vegetação arbórea das áreas alagáveis amazônicas é bem adaptada à dinâmica anual de cheias e vazantes”, destaca a pesquisadora.

Para ela, determinar o grau de tolerância a períodos extremos das espécies de árvores desses ambientes e de sua fauna associada, como os peixes e roedores, e conhecer sua reação com a dinâmica de alternância entre fases inundadas e não inundadas normais e extremas é um grande desafio e se constitui na base para seu uso sustentável e preservação.

Segundo Piedade, as áreas úmidas (várzeas, igapós, buritizais e outros tipos) cobrem cerca de 30% da região amazônica e são de fundamental importância ecológica e econômica. Ela explica que na várzea, múltiplas atividades econômicas são tradicionalmente desenvolvidas, como a pesca e a agricultura familiar, enquanto que nos igapós, por serem mais pobres em nutrientes e em espécies de plantas e animais, menos atividades econômicas são praticadas. Já nas campinas/campinaranas alagáveis essas atividades são ainda mais reduzidas.

“A ecologia, o funcionamento e as limitações para determinadas práticas econômicas nas várzeas são bastante conhecidas, mas nos igapós de água pretas e nas campinas/campinaranas alagáveis tais aspectos ainda são pouco estudados”, diz Piedade. “Embora se saiba que esses ambientes são frágeis, aumentar e disponibilizar informações sobre eles é fundamental”, acrescenta.


Com o título “Monitoramento e modelagem de dois grandes ecossistemas de áreas úmidas amazônicas em cenários de mudanças climáticas”, o Peld-Maua é um projeto financiado pelo Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), e também conta com recursos da Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Amazonas (Fapeam). Insere-se no plano de ação “Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação para Natureza e Clima”, do MCTI.

O Programa Peld foca no estabelecimento de sítios de pesquisa permanentes em diversos ecossistemas do País, integrados em redes para o desenvolvimento e o acompanhamento de pesquisas ecológicas de longa duração. Atualmente, existem 31 sítios de pesquisa vigentes.

O Peld-Maua é gerenciado pelo Inpa, em Manaus. Tem como vice-coordenador o pesquisador do Inpa, Jochen Schöngart; e como coordenador do Banco de Dados o pesquisador Florian Wittmann, do Departamento de Biogeoquímica do Instituto Max-Planck de Química, com sede em Mainz, na Alemanha.

A coordenadora do Peld-Maua explica que as atividades tiveram início há três anos. “Na primeira fase, que será completada agora em 2016, o Peld-Maua priorizou estudos em um ambiente de igapó e outro de campinarana alagável, mas espera-se que os estudos tenham continuidade e sejam expandidos para outras tipologias alagáveis amazônicas”, diz Piedade.

O Peld-Maua desenvolve estudos nas áreas de inundação das florestas de igapó no Parque Nacional do Jaú (Parna Jaú) – Unidade de Conservação localizada entre os municípios de Novo Airão e Barcelos, no Amazonas –, e ao longo dos gradientes de profundidade do lençol freático das florestas de campinas/campinaranas na Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (RDS) do Uatumã, situada entre os municípios de São Sebastião do Uatumã e Itapiranga, também no Amazonas.

Conforme Piedade, diante da conectividade entre os ambientes alagáveis e as formações contíguas de terra-firme ou outras, os sítios de estudos foram escolhidos em ambientes onde os gradientes podem ser também avaliados. “Isso aumenta as possibilidades de trabalhos comparativos”, ressalta.

O Peld-Maua tem por objetivo relacionar a estrutura, composição florística e dinâmica de plantas que produzem sementes (fanerógamas) de dois ecossistemas de áreas úmidas na Amazônia Central com fatores do solo e da disponibilidade de água (hidro-edáficos), por meio do monitoramento em longo prazo para entender possíveis impactos e respostas da vegetação frente a mudanças dos regimes pluviométricos e hidrológicos.

O programa, até o momento, já permitiu a realização de cinco dissertações de mestrado e uma tese de doutorado. Além dos estudos já finalizados, estão em andamento dois pós-doutorados, seis doutorados e quatro mestrados. Quanto à formação de pessoal, dois bolsistas do Programa de Capacitação Institucional (PCI) concluíram suas atividades e dois estão realizando seus projetos, e dois bolsistas do programa de Bolsa de Fomento ao Desenvolvimento Tecnológico (DTI) e dois Pibic’s realizaram seus projetos junto ao Peld-Maua.


Weasel Apparently Shuts Down World’s Most Powerful Particle Collider (NPR)

April 29, 201611:04 AM ET


The Large Hadron Collider uses superconducting magnets to smash sub-atomic particles together at enormous energies.

The Large Hadron Collider uses superconducting magnets to smash sub-atomic particles together at enormous energies. CERN

A small mammal has sabotaged the world’s most powerful scientific instrument.

The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile superconducting machine designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, went offline overnight. Engineers investigating the mishap found the charred remains of a furry creature near a gnawed-through power cable.

A small mammal, possibly a weasel, gnawed-through a power cable at the Large Hadron Collider.A small mammal, possibly a weasel, gnawed-through a power cable at the Large Hadron Collider. Ashley Buttle/Flickr

“We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal,” says Arnaud Marsollier, head of press for CERN, the organization that runs the $7 billion particle collider in Switzerland. Although they had not conducted a thorough analysis of the remains, Marsollier says they believe the creature was “a weasel, probably.” (Update: An official briefing document from CERN indicates the creature may have been a marten.)

The shutdown comes as the LHC was preparing to collect new data on the Higgs Boson, a fundamental particle it discovered in 2012. The Higgs is believed to endow other particles with mass, and it is considered to be a cornerstone of the modern theory of particle physics.

Researchers have seen some hints in recent data that other, yet-undiscovered particles might also be generated inside the LHC. If those other particles exist, they could revolutionize researcher’s understanding of everything from the laws of gravity, to quantum mechanics.

Unfortunately, Marsollier says, scientists will have to wait while workers bring the machine back online. Repairs will take a few days, but getting the machine fully ready to smash might take another week or two. “It may be mid-May,” he says.

These sorts of mishaps are not unheard of, says Marsollier. The LHC is located outside of Geneva. “We are in the countryside, and of course we have wild animals everywhere.” There have been previous incidents, including one in 2009, when a bird is believed to have dropped a baguette onto critical electrical systems.

Nor are the problems exclusive to the LHC: In 2006, raccoons conducted a “coordinated” attack on a particle accelerator in Illinois.

It is unclear whether the animals are trying to stop humanity from unlocking the secrets of the universe.

Of course, small mammals cause problems in all sorts of organizations. Yesterday, a group of children took National Public Radio off the air for over a minute before engineers could restore the broadcast.

Anthropologies #21: Weather changes people: stretching to encompass material sky dynamics in our ethnography (Savage Minds)

See original text here.

September 24, 2015.

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the Anthropologies #21 series.

Heid Jerstad brings our climate change issue to a close with this thoughtful essay. Jerstad (BA Oxford, MRes SOAS) is writing up her PhD on the effects of weather on peoples lives at the university of Edinburgh. Having done fieldwork in the western Indian Himalayas, she is particularly interested in the range of social and livelihood implications that weather (and thus climate change) has. She is on twitter @entanglednotion –R.A.

For most people, the climate change issue is a bundle of scientific ideas, or maybe a chunk of guilt lurking behind that short haul flight. The words have fused together to form a single stone, immobile and heavy. Change is a bit of a nothing word anyway – anything can change, and who is to say if it is good or bad, drastic or practically unnoticeable?

But what about climate? It is a big science-y word, neither human nor particularly tangible. Climate is about a place – engrained, palimpsested, with time-depth. That big sky, those habits – the Frenchman advising wine and bed on a rainy day, the Croatian judge lenient because there was a hot wind from the Sahara that day. This is weather I am talking about, seasons, years, the heat, damp and sparkling frost.

People care about the weather. We consider ourselves used to this or good at observing that. My home has more weather than other places – it is colder in winter, the air is clearer and brighter – because it is mine. My sunsets – this is eastern Norway – are vibrant and fill the sky, my sky will snow in June with not a cloud, my nose can feel that special tingle when it gets to below -20˚c. The north is not gloomy in winter – the snow is bright white, the hydro-fuelled streetlights illuminate empty streets and windows seal the warmth in.

What is your weather? It would be safe to assume it is part of the climate and I would go out on a limb and say I think you care about it. Am I wrong?

When the weather matters to people, the task becomes one of bridging this caring and the climate change science and projections. Looking at the impact of these weather changes in different areas of life is, then, going to make up a steadily larger part of useful climate change research.

Mead famously convened a conference with Kellogg titled ‘The Atmosphere: Endangered and Endangering’ in 1975, and Douglas published Risk and Blame in 1992. In the new millennium Strauss and Orlove (2003), Crate and Nuttall (2009) and Hastrup and Rubow (2014) brought edited volumes to the debate. It seems to be fairly well established, then, that climate change is a matter for anthropologists, as phrased by the AAA statement on climate change: ‘Climate change is rooted in social institutions and cultural habits. … Climate change is not a natural problem, it is a human problem.’ What then, can anthropologists do, about this problem?

Anthropologists provide description. The mapping of people’s stories of how the weather is ‘going wrong’, stories of change, and of coping and consequences is underway (Crate 2008 described the effects of unusual winter melt on the Vilui Sakha in Siberia, Cruikshank 2005 explored the tendrils of meaning surrounding glaciers between Alaska, British Colombia and the Yukon territory). Linked to the description, of course, and not really disentanglable from it is the explanation. Explanations and understandings of weather and weather changes in the places where they are happening, whether Chesapeake Bay, the Marshall Islands, or Rajasthan, India, fill in the social significance of what had been an empty sky (Paolisso 2003, Rudiak-Gould 2013, Grodzins-Gold 1998). The weather changes, in fact, constitute one of those satisfying areas of inquiry which concern those asked as much as the anthropologist.

The question of knowledge, however, can still seem a barrier when climate scientists are those with a mandate to understand changing weather. Anna Tsing, in the Firth Lecture at the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth’s (ASA) 2015 conference in Exeter, brought the contextual ecological study of mushrooms and the trees that they are mutual with in the forests of Japan and China to illustrate the gains anthropology can make when we give up scepticism of natural science. Earlier in the year, Moore, at the launch of the Centre of the Anthropology of Sustainability (CAOS) at University College London used microbial research to break down the bounded image of the body, where on the cellular level culture and biology shape each other – for instance when poor black women in the States eat fish which contains mercury and this affects the biological development of their children. Tsing and Moore brought together what might previously have been considered within the remit of ecology or biology to make important points about the capacity of anthropology—and to suggest where we might go next, expanding vision of social science. When mushrooms and microbes are appropriate topics for anthropological research, then looking at the climate and its material as well as social effects (rotting, drying, illness (Jerstad 2014)) starts to look feasible.

The anthropocene is a term which has been shown to have considerable analytical purchase outside of geology, illuminating moral and political debates about blame, the north-south divide and the global movement of materials, people and plants (Chakrabarty 2014, Tsing 2013). These ideas have been applyied in the study of climate scientists themselves (Simonetti 2015) as well as climate policy (Lahsen 2009). The anthropocene, i.e. the world as subject to the effects of human activities such as climate change, may be read as a set of material relationships, where the weather, bodies and landscapes meet, as Ingold showed (2010). This term allows the larger picture, where the world and all the people in it – those people for whom climate change matters – to be considered in a single conceptual space. In this space climate change can be seen as part of the encompassing extra-somatic human activity which defines our world as we are starting to understand it.

The anthropocene and climate change, however, both involve the challenge of how to follow the conceptual and material threads that lead from these global issues and into particular, ethnographically described lives:

 A close examination of scientific practice makes clear that localizing is as much a problem for climate researchers as it is for ethnographers. This holds not only for the     interconnectedness of the global and the local climate, but also for the separation of climate change as a ‘scientific fact’ on the one hand, and a ‘matter of concern’ on the other. Climate research offers an insight into a messy world of ramifications, surprising activities and unexpected “social” context (Krauss 2009:149–50).

Anthropological work has the reflexive capacity to deal with the messy world Krauss refers to here, where these ramifications, surprising activities and unexpected ‘social’ context are part of the particular places where we, as anthropologists, work, taking cues from events and observations around us. In my own fieldwork I found all kinds of unanticipated connections between weathers and other aspects of life. With a research proposal full of religion and ‘belief’ I ended up with far more material interests, guided by the sometimes patient and sometimes exasperated villagers with whom I lived in the western Indian Himalayas.

I was walking with Karishma to get green grass one day during the monsoon. She told me that our village (Gau) is famous for being misty, and therefore that the girls are known, both for working hard and for being beautiful, because even though they are outside the mistiness keeps them pale. So apparently on festival days people say that the girls from this village are gori (white) because there is so much mist here. But Karishma pointed out that this can’t be true because there is mist only in the rainy season. Then she said that the girls here wear sweaters to stay gori. Also, she said girls of this village have a reputation for being hard working so people ask for them in marriage when there is a household where work is to be done. This (I think) might be part of why quite a few of the new brides in Gau are not used to doing as much work as women do here. But then Karishma said fairly that it is not just the girls who work hard, everyone works hard in this village (well, most people). She said that when girls go away to study, like she did, then they come back more beautiful. That is to say pale from not being outside. She was saying how on the other hand I had become more black (kala) since being there in the village (this was true).

People, whether Himalayan villagers or Norwegian PhD students, live with weather on an ongoing basis, and consistently live in the weather, which is not always catastrophic but does always impinge (think food perishability, wardrobe choices, sitting in the shade). The considerations people have with regards to the weather, then, necessarily translate to potential climate change concerns. Climate change is a threat, it has potentially deadly dimensions, but weather is inherent to our world, and I would not want to pathologize it.

Weather relates in fundamental ways to sensation and the body, thermal infrastructure, agriculture and animal husbandry, health and illness, disasters and other areas of anthropology (that is to say life). Weather may be implicated in all kinds of ways with other areas of life – for instance the hot/cold symbolism in India which classifies illness, the body, food and even moods. I think that it can be surprisingly easy to forget or ignore weather precisely because it is so pervasive. And this resistance of the mind against focusing on it is a risk when it comes to climate change. It can be tiring to think about. How, after all, do you write about the wind? And people have (Parkin 1995, James 1972, Hsu and Low 2007), but personally I find it challenging just to make a start – capturing the sky with a few black marks on paper feels so unrealistic. In that sense it is a great stretching area for our minds, about the material and the social, about what we mean with words like ‘impact’ and ‘atmosphere’ and the connections between people and places.

Finally there is the role of anthropology in clarifying the terms of the climate change debate. This is a new kind of challenge, it is a global one (hence the usefulness of Tsing’s work, who demonstrated the crucial part material relationships and meetings play in globalisation (2005)), it is to do with both technologies and nature (we can apply Latour, who shows in ‘we have never been modern’ (1993) how ‘modernity’ has not succeeded in cutting us off from the material and natural world around us), it is political, historical (hence Chakrabarty, whose work pushes us to think in new ways about how we are positioned in history and what place climate change has in this context), and there is something about it which is pushing at the edges in all these areas and others, in which new terms are required to even conceive of some of these problematics. Building on what we understand and moving further, in ways that might tread new neural pathways and enable new realities, simply from the newness of our thinking, feels like a worthwhile undertaking. I suggest that the orientation of research which maps out the weather-weight of social life can help bring the people back into climate change.

So the immovable stone of ‘climate change’ is being loosened up, pulled apart to reassemble in illuminating and constructive ways by people contributing to blow away the fog obstructing understanding, using the culminations of what we know so far and the ways in which we can think new thoughts. This effort rewards.


AAA statement on climate change. 29th January 2015. Accessed 1st July 2015.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh 2014. Climate and Capital: On Conjoined Histories. Critical Inquiry 41(1):1-23.

Crate, Susan. 2008. Gone the Bull of Winter? Grappling with the Cultural Implications of and Anthropology’s Role(s) in Global Climate Change. Current Anthropology 49:569-595.

Crate, Susan and Mark Nuttall, eds. 2009. Anthropology and Climate Change: from Encounters to Actions. California: Left Coast Press.

Cruikshank, Julie. 2005. Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters, and Social Imagination. Toronto: University of British Columbia Press.

Douglas, Mary. 1992. Risk and Blame. London: Routledge

Grodzins-Gold, Ann. 1998. Sin and Rain: Moral Ecology in Rural North India. In Lance Nelson ed. Purifying the Earthly Body of God. New York: State University of New York Press.

Hsu, Elizabeth and Chris Low eds. 2007: Wind, Life, Health: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. Special issue. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13:S1-S181.

Ingold, T. (2010), Footprints through the weather-world: walking, breathing, knowing. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16: S121–S139.

James, Wendy. 1972. The politics of rain control among the Uduk. In Ian Cunnison and Wendy James eds. Essays on Sudan ethnography presented to Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard. London: C. Hurst.

Jerstad, Heid. 2014. Damp bodies and smoky firewood: material weather and livelihood in rural Himachal Pradesh. Forum for development studies 41(3):399-414.

Krauss, Werner. 2009. Localizing Climate Change: A Multi-sited Approach. In Marc-Anthony Falzon and Clair Hall eds. Multi-Sited. Ethnography. Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research 149-165. Ashgate.

Lahsen, Myanna. 2009. A science-policy interface in the Global South: The politics of carbon sinks and science in Brazil. Climatic Change 97:339–372.

Paolisso, Michael. 2003. Chesapeake Bay watermen, weather and blue crabs: cultural models and fishery policies. In Sarah Strauss and Benjamin Orlove eds. Weather, Climate, Culture. Oxford: Berg.

Rudiak-Gould, Peter. 2013. Climate change and tradition in a small island state: the rising tide. Routledge.

Simonetti, Christian. 2015. The stratification of time. Time and Society .

Strauss, Sarah and Orlove, Benjamin eds. 2003. Weather, climate, culture. Oxford: Berg

Tsing, Anna. 2013. Dancing the Mushroom Forest. PAN: Philosophy, Activism, Nature vol 10.

Tsing, Anna. 2005. Friction. Princeton University Press.

Brasil e mais 169 países assinam acordo sobre mudança climática (Estadão)

Cláudia Trevisan e Altamira Silva Junior – 22 de abril de 201

Dilma: 'O caminho que teremos de percorrer agora será ainda mais desafiador: transformar nossas ambiciosas aspirações em resultados concretos'

Dilma: ‘O caminho que teremos de percorrer agora será ainda mais desafiador: transformar nossas ambiciosas aspirações em resultados concretos’

Representantes de 170 países assinaram nesta sexta-feira, 22, o Acordo de Paris sobre mudança climática, batendo o recorde da história da Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) de adesão a um tratado internacional em um único dia. Mas todos ouviram o alerta do secretário-geral da entidade, Ban Ki-Moon, de que as boas intenções terão pouco impacto se a convenção não for ratificada pelos países o mais breve possível. Sem isso, o tratado não entrará em vigor.

“Estamos em uma corrida contra o tempo”, disse Ban no discurso de abertura da cerimônia, no plenário da ONU em Nova York. A urgência foi enfatizada por vários chefes de Estado, incluindo os presidentes do Brasil, Dilma Rousseff, e da França, François Hollande.

Dilma assegurou “a pronta entrada em vigor” da convenção, mas essa decisão depende do Congresso. “O caminho que teremos de percorrer agora será ainda mais desafiador: transformar nossas ambiciosas aspirações em resultados concretos”, disse a presidente em seu discurso. E repetiu os compromissos assumidos pelo Brasil durante a negociação do tratado, entre os quais a promessa de reduzir em 37% a emissão de gases poluentes até 2025, na comparação com os patamares registrados em 2005.

Frustração. Carlos Rittl, secretário executivo do Observatório do Clima, disse que Dilma frustrou as expectativas de entidades ambientais que esperavam uma sinalização clara de que o Brasil assumirá metas mais ambiciosas em 2018, quando haverá uma avaliação dos resultados do acordo. “O Brasil precisa reconhecer que deve fazer mais que o prometido no ano passado”, disse. “Todos devem, porque estamos na trajetória de 3ºC de aquecimento.”

Aprovado por representantes de 195 nações em dezembro, o tratado prevê uma série de compromissos nacionais com o objetivo de limitar o aumento da temperatura do planeta a 2ºC até o fim do século, em relação ao patamar anterior ao período industrial. Para que entre em vigor, o Acordo de Paris precisa ser ratificado por pelo menos 55 países que representem ao menos 55% das emissões de gases do efeito estufa.

“A era do consumo sem consequências chegou ao fim. Nós temos de intensificar os esforços para ‘descarbonizar’ nossas economias”, ressaltou o secretário-geral das Nações Unidas. Além do caráter simbólico, a cerimônia desta sexta tinha o objetivo de mobilizar os líderes mundiais em torno da ratificação do acordo, de forma que entre em vigor no próximo ano e não em 2020, como inicialmente previsto.

Primeiro a discursar, o presidente da França lembrou que Paris vivia uma situação trágica em dezembro, sob o impacto dos atentados terroristas que haviam provocado a morte de 130 pessoas no mês anterior. Ainda assim, ressaltou, foi possível fechar o acordo histórico sobre mudança climática.

Impactos visíveis no mar (Pesquisa Fapesp)

Poluentes chegam a 200 km ao norte e ao sul da foz do rio Doce, atingem unidades de conservação, alteram equilíbrio ecológico e se acumulam no assoalho marinho


Poluição à vista: os resíduos que vazaram do reservatório de Mariana formam mancha acastanhada na foz do rio DocePoluição à vista: os resíduos que vazaram do reservatório de Mariana formam mancha acastanhada na foz do rio Doce.

Em janeiro deste ano, ao sobrevoarem o litoral do Espírito Santo e do sul da Bahia, biólogos, oceanógrafos e técnicos de órgãos ambientais do governo federal reconheceram os borrões escuros na superfície do mar formados pelo acúmulo de resíduos metálicos que vazaram do reservatório da mineradora Samarco em Mariana, Minas Gerais, em novembro de 2015. A mancha de resíduos, também chamada de pluma, aproximava-se do arquipélago de Abrolhos, uma das principais reservas de vida silvestre marinha da costa brasileira.

Os borrões não eram apenas os indesejados resquícios da extração de minério de ferro de Minas Gerais, mas uma de suas consequências, como se verificou logo depois. Em meio às manchas verde-escuro havia colônias de algas e outros organismos marinhos microscópicos – o fitoplâncton – com dezenas de quilômetros de extensão, muito maiores que as observadas nos anos anteriores, de acordo com as análises de pesquisadores da Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (Ufes).

Outra peculiaridade é que os organismos cresciam e se multiplicavam rapidamente, em decorrência do excesso de ferro dos rejeitos da mineradora de Mariana que se espalham pelo mar a partir da foz do rio Doce, onde chegaram no final de novembro. Desde então, levados continuamente ao mar pelo rio, os resíduos formam uma mancha móvel que oscila ao longo de 200 quilômetros (km) ao norte e ao sul da foz do rio Doce, que alterou o equilíbrio marinho, como indicado pela massa de fitoplâncton, e atingiu pelo menos três unidades de conservação de organismos marinhos.

“As manchas de fitoplâncton são comuns no verão, mas não desse modo”, explica Alex Bastos, professor de oceanografia da Ufes, no final de fevereiro. Análises preliminares indicaram que as colônias de algas são constituídas por organismos que se formam e morrem em poucos dias, mais rapidamente que o habitual. A decomposição acelerada dos organismos consome oxigênio da água do mar, com consequências imprevisíveis sobre as comunidades de organismos marinhos.

Além disso, a diversidade de espécies havia sido reduzida quase à metade. Camilo Dias Júnior, com sua equipe de oceanografia da Ufes, encontrou no máximo 40 espécies de fitoplâncton por amostra analisada; antes da chegada dos resíduos os pesquisadores reconheciam de 50 a 70 espécies. A hipótese dos pesquisadores e técnicos é de que já poderia ter ocorrido uma seleção de variedades mais adaptadas ao excesso de ferro trazido com a descarga dos resíduos no mar.

Nos sobrevoos do litoral do Espírito Santo e da Bahia, Claudio Dupas, coordenador do Núcleo de Geoprocessamento e Monitoramento Ambiental da Superintendência do Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (Ibama) em São Paulo, observou muitos barcos de pesca próximos às manchas de fitoplâncton na foz do rio Doce. Atraídos pela abundância de alimento, o grande número de peixes chamou a atenção dos pescadores.

Em Governador Valadares, MG: a lama ocupou o rio Doce em novembro, prejudicando o abastecimento de água para os moradores da cidade

Com base nas análises preliminares da qualidade de água e na observação do cenário, a equipe do Ibama elaborou um relatório técnico alertando sobre alterações na qualidade da água, prejudicada com a descarga de resíduos no mar. Com base no documento e no princípio da precaução – para evitar que a população seja prejudicada pelo consumo de peixes contaminados –, no dia 22 de fevereiro um juiz federal de Vitória proibiu por tempo indeterminado a pesca na região da foz do rio Doce. “Assim que saiu a decisão do juiz, o superintendente do Ibama em Vitória, Guanadir Gonçalves, pediu-me para fazer um mapa com a delimitação da área de proibição, que foi para a internet e para os celulares dos fiscais em campo no mesmo dia”, diz Dupas.

Desde janeiro os movimentos da mancha de resíduos podem ser acompanhados por meio de mapas gerados pelo Ibama a partir de imagens de satélites no site, mantido pela Samarco. Já o site contém imagens de satélite de alta resolução de antes e depois do incidente, da barragem à foz. Os mapas indicam que os resíduos já chegaram a 50 km ao sul de Vitória, capital do Espírito Santo, e atingiram três unidades de conservação do ambiente marinho, o Refúgio de Vida Silvestre de Santa Cruz, a Área de Proteção Ambiental (APA) Costa das Algas e uma das principais áreas de desova da tartaruga-cabeçuda (Caretta caretta), uma faixa de 37 km de praias conhecida como Reserva Biológica Comboios. “Ainda não é possível avaliar o impacto sobre o ambiente, a vida dos organismos marinhos e dos moradores da região”, diz Dupas.

Desde que vazou da barragem de Fundão, em 5 de novembro, até chegar ao mar, a enorme massa de resíduos da extração de minério de ferro causou uma transformação profunda. Destruiu casas e matas às margens do rio Doce, provocando a morte de 18 pessoas e de toneladas de peixes e outros organismos aquáticos. A bióloga Flávia Bottino participou das expedições do Grupo Independente para Análise do Impacto Ambiental (Giaia) ao longo do rio Doce em novembro e observou uma intensa turbidez da água, que dificultava a penetração da luz e a sobrevivência dos organismos. Os biólogos encontraram camarões de água doce que sobreviveram ao desastre, mas os organismos bentônicos, que viviam no fundo do rio, tinham sido soterrados.

Limites incertos 
A alta concentração de partículas sólidas que absorvem calor pode ter causado o aumento da temperatura da água para cerca de 30º Celsius. “A água do rio estava quente”, ela notou. As análises das amostras de água coletadas em dezembro ao longo de um trecho de cerca de 800 km do rio, realizadas nas unidades das universidades de São Paulo (USP) em Ribeirão Preto, Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar) em São Carlos e Sorocaba, Estadual Paulista (Unesp) em São Vicente, e na de Brasília (UnB), indicaram concentrações elevadas de manganês, ferro, arsênio e chumbo. As chuvas podem agravar a situação ao lavar as margens dos rios, cobertas de resíduos, e transportá-los ao mar.

Por meio de coletas realizadas com o navio Vital de Oliveira Moura, da Marinha, a equipe da Ufes verificou que 25 km a leste da foz do Rio Doce os resíduos formam uma camada de 1 a 2 centímetros sobre a lama do fundo do mar, a 25 metros de profundidade. “Está havendo um acúmulo rápido do rejeito no assoalho marinho”, diz Bastos, da Ufes, com base em coletas realizadas desde novembro, logo após o rompimento da barragem (ver Pesquisa FAPESP no 239). “Nem nas maiores cheias o acúmulo de sedimentos no rio no fundo do mar foi tão alto.”

042-047_Poluentes_242No início de fevereiro, em uma reunião dos pesquisadores da Ufes com representantes do Ibama, Instituto Estadual do Meio Ambiente (Iema) e Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio), Bastos comentou que a concentração de ferro no fundo do mar havia aumentado 20 vezes, em comparação com os níveis de antes do acidente, a de alumínio 10 vezes e a de cromo e manganês, cinco. Outro professor da Ufes, Renato Rodrigues Neto, observou que a vazão do rio passou de 300 metros cúbicos por segundo (m³/s), antes do rompimento da barragem, para cerca de 4.000 m³/s, aumentando a quantidade de lama com resíduos metálicos despejada no mar.

As imagens de satélite indicam que os resíduos metálicos podem ter chegado até o arquipélago de Abrolhos no início de janeiro, embora, ressalta Dupas, ainda não seja possível diferenciar os sedimentos vindos do rio Doce, a cerca de 200 km de distância, dos do rio Caravelas, que deságua na região. Segundo ele, os resultados das análises em andamento devem ser anunciados em abril.

Vários estudos em outras áreas marinhas têm indicado que os resíduos industriais podem ir muito além dos lugares onde foram produzidos, misturar-se com os sedimentos do fundo do mar, aflorando se revolvidos por redes de pesca, ou ser absorvidos por organismos marinhos. Uma equipe do Instituto Oceanográfico (IO) da USP identificou metais pesados (chumbo, cobre e zinco) e compostos orgânicos derivados de petróleo produzidos na zona industrial de Santos e do polo industrial de Cubatão, a 15 km do mar, misturados com a lama do assoalho marinho a uma profundidade de 100 metros e a uma distância de 200 km da costa. Não se pensava que a poluição gerada em terra pudesse chegar tão longe.

Condições ambientais 
As conclusões ajudam a pensar o que poderia se passar no litoral do Espírito Santo e dos estados vizinhos, à medida que a lama da mineradora se espalha. “Os eventos, a rigor, não têm conexão à primeira vista”, disse Michel Mahiques, professor de oceanografia do IO-USP que coordenou os estudos em Santos. O vazamento da Samarco em Mariana foi um fenômeno agudo, com uma descarga intensa de resíduos, enquanto Santos e outros, como a baía da Guanabara, são casos crônicos, de décadas de liberação contínua de poluentes. “O fato comum”, ele diz, “é que existem porções do fundo marinho nas quais as condições ambientais permitem a deposição de materiais gerados pela atividade humana, ainda que a grandes distâncias”.

Em um estudo anterior no litoral de Santos, seu grupo identificou isótopos de césio 137 originários de explosões atômicas ou de usinas nucleares, nas quais esse tipo de material é gerado. “O césio foi transportado pela atmosfera e aderiu a partículas muito pequenas do fundo do mar”, conta. “Podemos chamar esses casos de teleconexões, em que um evento em um determinado ponto do planeta pode afetar regiões muito distantes.” Segundo ele, os casos clássicos são os acidentes das usinas nucleares de Chernobyl em 1986 e de Fukushima em 2011.

Vila de Mariana devastada pela lama da barragem de Fundão: efeito a mais de 800 km de distância na terra, no rio e no mar

“Precisamos lançar outro olhar para o potencial de acumulação de material no meio marinho”, comenta Mahiques. Seus estudos indicaram que os poluentes se acumulam principalmente nos cinturões de lama, faixas em geral com 3 a 4 km de largura e dezenas de quilômetros de extensão, na chamada plataforma continental, sobre estruturas antigas de relevo. “Há um efeito a distância. Os sedimentos permanecem em pontos bem distantes da origem. Duzentos quilômetros foi o limite a que chegamos, mas ainda não sabemos se poderiam ir mais longe.” Mahiques argumenta que dois conceitos básicos sobre o funcionamento da plataforma continental deveriam ser revistos. O primeiro é que a quantidade de materiais do continente que chega ao mar seria pequena. O segundo é que os ambientes costeiros retêm a sujeira. “A quantidade não é pequena, nem os estuários são um filtro perfeito dos resíduos gerados no continente.”

Os pesquisadores analisaram 21 amostras de sedimentos coletadas em 2005 e outras, mais recentes, reunidas por meio do navio oceanográfico Alpha Crucis. Os resultados indicaram que os níveis de chumbo, zinco e cobre a 100 metros de profundidade a mais de 100 km da costa eram próximos aos encontrados na baía de Santos, embora mais baixos que os limites mais altos do estuário santista, um ambiente próximo à terra que mistura água de rios e do mar. No estuário, a concentração de chumbo no sedimento marinho variava de 9 miligramas por quilograma (mg/kg) em áreas não contaminadas a 59 mg/kg em amostras do fundo do porto, indicando um aumento de cinco a 10 vezes em comparação com os valores anteriores ao processo de industrialização. Os autores desse trabalho afirmaram que os poluentes industriais misturados com a lama no fundo do mar poderiam facilmente voltar à circulação, como resultado de movimentos intensos da água ou de atividade humana como a dragagem para a ampliação de portos ou a pesca com redes pesadas que revolvem o fundo do mar.

Estudos anteriores de pesquisadores do IO-USP já haviam mostrado que a descarga contínua de esgotos domésticos e de poluentes industriais na baía de Santos era provavelmente uma das causas da reduzida diversidade de organismos marinhos na região, em comparação com áreas menos poluídas.

Em paralelo, uma equipe da Unesp em São Vicente encontrou níveis acima dos permitidos em lei de quatro metais pesados – cádmio, cobre, chumbo e mercúrio – em amostras de água, sedimento e em caranguejos-uçá dos manguezais dos municípios de Cubatão, Bertioga, Iguape, São Vicente e Cananeia. Nas regiões com maior concentração desses metais, os caranguejos apresentavam uma proporção maior de células com alterações genéticas associadas à ocorrência de malformações (verPesquisa FAPESP no 225). Estudo de uma equipe da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande publicado em novembro de 2015 associou a contaminação por metal como possível causa da fibropapilomatose, uma doença específica de tartarugas marinhas, caracterizada pela formação de tumores benignos sobre a pele, em tartarugas-verde (Chelonia mydas) de Ubatuba, SP, já que os animais examinados apresentavam um nível acima do normal de cobre, ferro e chumbo, em comparação com animais saudáveis.

“Quando pensarmos em legislação e políticas públicas, para fazer uma projeção do impacto de eventuais acidentes ambientais, temos de olhar mais longe e rever o conceito de área de influência, já que o efeito pode ser muito maior do que o imaginado”, disse Mahiques. Bastos, da Ufes, observou que os danos ambientais podem ser intensos em consequência de pequenas alterações na concentração de metais na água do mar, mesmo que os limites ainda estejam abaixo dos máximos estabelecidos pela legislação ambiental.

Artigos científicos
FIGUEIRA, R.C.L. et alDistribution of 137Cs, 238Pu and 239 + 240Pu in sediments of the southeastern Brazilian shelf – SW Atlantic marginScience of the Total Environment. v. 357, p. 146-59. 2006.
MAHIQUES, M.M. et alMud depocentres on the continental shelf: a neglected sink for anthropogenic contaminants from the coastal zone. EnvironmentalEarth Sciences. v. 75, n. 1, p. 44-55. 2016.
SILVA, C.C. da et alMetal contamination as a possible etiology of fibropapillomatosis in juvenile female green sea turtles Chelonia mydas from the southern Atlantic OceanAquatic Toxicology. v. 170, p. 42-51. 2016.

By 2050 Asia at high risk of severe water shortages: MIT study (Reuters)

Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:30am EDT


A new study points to the risk that China and India will be facing severe water shortages due to a perfect storm of economic growth, climate change, and demands of fast growing populations by mid century. 

Within 35 years, the countries where roughly half the world’s population lives may be facing what scientists are calling a “high risk of severe water stress”. That translates into billions of people having access to a lot less water than they do today, according to a new study from MIT.

“There is about a one in three chance that if we take no action to mitigate climate or to do anything to curtail any of the factors that go into this water stress metric, there is a one in three chance that you will reach this unsustainable situation by the middle of the century,” said Adam Schlosser, a senior research scientist who co-authored the paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“It’s very important to show that all things being equal, all things not changing, if we continue with what we are doing now we are running along a very dangerous pathway,” he added.

The scientists simulated hundreds of scenarios looking into the future and found that on average, the water basins that feed economic growth in China and India will have less water than they do today. At the same time, they say pressure on water resources will continue to grow as populations increase, creating an unsustainable scenario where supply loses out to demand.

“We are looking at a region where nations are really at a very rapid developing stage or they are at the precipice of a very rapid development stage and so you really can’t ignore the growth effect, you just can’t, particularly when it comes to resources,” said Schlosser.

But overshadowing everything else, they say, is climate change. While some models show that the effects of climate change could potentially benefit water resources in Asia, the majority point in the opposite direction.

Schlosser and his colleagues believe it will only exacerbate an already gloomy outlook for the future.

Regulators Warn 5 Top Banks They Are Still Too Big to Fail (New York Times)


The Fed and the F.D.I.C. found that the plans of five banks were “not credible.”

  • Failed

  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo
  • Bank of New York Mellon
  • State Street
  • Mostly Satisfied

  • Citigroup
  • Split Decision

  • Goldman Sachs
  • Morgan Stanley

The five banks that received rejections have until Oct. 1 to fix their plans.

After those adjustments, if the Fed and the F.D.I.C. are still dissatisfied with the living wills, they may impose restrictions on the banks’ activities or require the banks to raise their capital levels, which in practice means using less borrowed money to finance their business.

And if, after two years, the regulators still find the plans deficient, they may require the banks to sell assets and businesses, with the aim of making them less complex and simpler to unwind in a bankruptcy.

Also on Wednesday, JPMorgan announced a decline in both profit and revenue for the first quarter. Other large banks will report quarterly results this week.

“Obviously we were disappointed,” Marianne Lake, chief financial officer of JPMorgan, said on Wednesday morning.

The results are a particular blow for JPMorgan because it often boasts about the strength of its operations and its ability to weather any crisis. Just last week, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive, bragged in his annual letterthat the bank “had enough loss-absorbing resources to bear all the losses,” under the Fed’s annual stress-test situations, of the 31 largest banks in the country.

But the Fed and F.D.I.C. said on Wednesday that JPMorgan appeared to be unprepared for a crisis in a number of areas. The regulators said, for instance, that the bank did not have adequate plans to move money from its operations overseas if something went wrong in the markets.

The letter also said that JPMorgan did not have a good plan to wind down its outstanding derivative contracts if other banks stopped trading with it.

Ms. Lake said “there’s going to be significant work to meet the expectations of regulators.” But she also expressed confidence that the bank could do so without significantly changing how it does business.

Investors appeared to agree that the verdicts from regulators did not endanger the banks’ current business models. Shares of all of the big banks rose on Wednesday.

Wells Fargo, which is generally considered the safest of the large banks, was the target of unexpected criticism from the Fed and F.D.I.C.

The agencies criticized Wells Fargo’s governance and legal structure, and faulted it for “material errors,” which, the regulators said, raised questions about whether the bank has a “robust process to ensure quality control and accuracy.”

In a statement, Wells Fargo said it was disappointed and added, “We understand the importance of these findings, and we will address them as we update our plan.”

The banking industry has complained that the process of submitting living wills is complex and hard to complete and it has suggested changes.

“A useful process reform might be to do living wills every two or three years, instead of annually,” said Tony Fratto, a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, a public relations firm that works with the banks. “The time required for banks to produce them and regulators to react to them is clearly too tight.”

But Martin J. Gruenberg, the chairman of the F.D.I.C., said on Wednesday that regulators were “committed to carrying out the statutory mandate that systemically important financial institutions demonstrate a clear path to an orderly failure under bankruptcy at no cost to taxpayers.”

“Today’s action is a significant step toward achieving that goal,” he added.

The Stark Realities of Baked-In Catastrophes (Collapse of Industrial Civilization)

02 Apr 2016


In a civilization gone mad with delusions of grandeur, we’re left with tatters of human sociability held together by rancid mythologies.

Despite human fossil fuel burning recently reported to be “flat”, CO2 levels have been on a tear for the last six months, reaching new worrying levels which have some wondering whether permafrost melt may be contributing to the unusually high spike if no decline happens soon. The giant holes in Siberia serve as an ominous sign. Considering that the current El Niño is contributing only 10% to what we are now seeing, runaway global warming may be accelerating worldwide. But don’t worry, Warren Buffett says climate change is no more of a problem than the Y2K bug and will be profitable through increased premiums and inflation.

Ever dire studies continue to reaffirm worst case scenarios, making clear to anyone paying attention that Earth in the next century will be unrecognizable from its current state. Basic planetary geography and atmospheric conditions will be altered through warming oceans and rising sea levels which are now increasing faster than at any time in the past 2800 years. On average, sea levels were between 50 and 82 feet higher the last time CO2 levels were at 400ppm. Glaciologist Jason Box expects ice melt from the West Antarctic to become the biggest contributor to sea level rise in the coming decades due to a feedback loop not in the climate models. CO2 levels have been increasing around 3ppm per year, a twentyfold increase since pre-industrial times when the highest recorded increase was 0.15 ppm per year. We’ve long since passed the tipping point of melting Arctic summer sea ice; 300-350 ppm of CO2 was the threshold for many parts of the climate. These changes are irreversible on a timescale of human civilizations. Even if all human industrial activity magically ceased today, the footprint man has already left will be felt for eons.

In our warming world, the hydrologic cycle is changing and creating extreme weather; crop-destroying droughts and floods are becoming more frequent. The Jet Stream is transforming into something different, becoming wavier with higher ridges and troughs prone to stagnating in the same region. As global temperatures rise over time, hotter air will be trapped under these layers of high pressure from a mangled Jet Stream, cooking everything to death. Rising winter temperatures are beginning to destroy the “winter chill” needed for many fruit and nut trees to properly blossom and produce maximally. Climate change is also disrupting flower pollination and pushing fish toward North/South poles, robbing poorer countries at Equator of crucial food resources. In a new study, marine scientists are surprised to find a disturbing trend in the increasing numbers of a specific type of phytoplankton, coccolithophores, which have been “typically more abundant during Earth’s warm interglacial and high CO2 periods.”


Homo sapiens have only been on the planet for the equivalent of a few seconds in geologic time but have managed to overwhelm and foul up all of earth’s natural processes and interdependencies, leaving a distinct layer in the sedimentary record. There is nothing modern humans do that is truly sustainable. Here are a few glaring examples:

No amount of reafforestation or growing of new trees will ultimately off-set continuing CO2 emissions due to environmental constraints on plant growth and the large amounts of remaining fossil fuel reserves,” Mackey says. “Unfortunately there is no option but to cut fossil fuel emissions deeply as about a third of the CO2 stays in the atmosphere for 2 to 20 millennia.


Relying on machines for answers to the existential problems of a species run amok with planet-destroying tools and weaponry is rather ironic and tragic. We’re locked-up inside a complexity trap of our own making. The human propensity for tool-building coupled with our discovery of fossil fuels has created a set of living arrangements in which we are now enslaved to those machines and tools. The globalized capitalist economy externalizes its destruction and atrocities, keeping the masses in a state of ignorance and denial. Our corporate overlords are not conscientious citizens, but mindless organizations whose sole purpose is to grow profits no matter the external damage done to society and the environment. Between the economic oil hitmen who ensure that profits flow smoothly and GOP politicians who openly espouse their science illiteracy, a hospitable climate for future humans seems remote. Hopeful delusions have given way to the stark reality of our predicament as scholars like Noam Chomsky who originally started his career fighting for a modicum of social justice have now set the bar at just the chance of human survival. Despite the best efforts of scientists, environmentalists, and activists, the wealthy countries most able to do something won’t “get it” until famine, disease, and war come to their country. All is being left for the almighty ‘free market’ to sort out at the same time that climate change, a conflict multiplier, ramps up.


The sixth mass extinction gathers steam and climate inertia works to catch up to the catastrophic ecological collapse already baked-in. All the while, modern man engages in the spectacle of tribal politics(building walls, exuding military strength, recapturing past glories of their nation) and presidential candidates discuss the size of their penis.

For those who come to understand modern man’s predicament, it can either be the ultimate mind fuck or an epiphany that helps a person appreciate the fragility of life, the urgency of living in the here and now, and the grand cosmic joke of a global, hi-tech civilization that arose from the burning of ancient fossil remains only to have those fumes become a deadly curse, extinguishing any trace of our lofty accomplishments…

The fossil record, Plotnick points out, is much more durable than any human record.

As humanity has evolved, our methods of recording information have become ever more ephemeral,” he said. “Clay tablets last longer than books. And who today can read an 8-inch floppy?” he shrugged. “If we put everything on electronic media, will those records exist in a million years? The fossils will.
– Link

Mudanças climáticas provocarão prejuízo de US$ 2,5 trilhões (O Globo)

05/04/2016, por O Globo

Colheita de cana de açúcar: rombo acontecerá mesmo se os países cumprirem as metas voluntárias apresentadas na conferência climática de Paris, em dezembro de 2015 – Paulo Fridman/Bloomberg/18-9-2014

RIO — As mudanças climáticas podem afetar investimentos equivalentes a US$ 2,5 trilhões da economia mundial até 2100, segundo um estudo publicado ontem na revista “Nature Climate Change”. O prejuízo seria resultado do aumento da temperatura em 2,5 graus Celsius até o fim do século, em relação aos níveis pré-industriais. Esta quantia é equivalente à metade do valor atual das empresas de combustíveis fósseis. Se os termômetros avançarem além de 2 graus Celsius — valor máximo admitido pelos climatologistas —, a economia mundial sofreria um rombo de US$ 1,7 trilhão.

Entre os meios de destruição mais comuns ligados às mudanças climáticas estão o aumento do nível do mar — que afeta principalmente setores da economia atuantes na zona costeira —, além de secas e tempestades, capazes de interromper atividades de diferentes ramos do mercado.

A pesquisa concentrou-se principalmente em investimentos ligados a petróleo, carvão e gás, recursos que serão perdidos se os países insistirem na adoção de combustíveis fósseis, em de vez de optar por energias sustentáveis.

De acordo com o Instituto de Pesquisa Grantham sobre Mudanças Climáticas, que elaborou o estudo, seus cálculos são a primeira estimativa do impacto causado pelo aquecimento global sobre ativos financeiros.

As projeções, realizadas com o uso de modelos matemáticos, foram baseados em um valor estimado de US$ 143,3 trilhões em ativos não bancários globais em 2013, valor determinado por economistas.

Considerando as atuais emissões de gases-estufa, os climatologistas indicam que o planeta está a caminho de um aquecimento global equivalente ou superior a 4 graus Celsius. Se as nações cumprirem as metas que apresentaram na Conferência do Clima em Paris, no fim do ano passado, o aumento da temperatura global chegará a 3 graus Celsius.

As mudanças climáticas devem ser encaradas com preocupação para setores e investidores que exercem a atividade pensando a longo prazo, como os fundos de pensão e reguladores financeiros.

Diretor do programa de finanças sustentáveis da Universidade de Oxford, no Reino Unido, Ben Caldecott ressalta que os impactos financeiros das mudanças climáticas são um risco de grande escala.

— Os investidores podem fazer muito para diferenciar entre as empresas mais ou menos expostas e, assim, conseguirem ajudar a reduzir os riscos para a economia global, apoiando ações ambientais sobre as mudanças climáticas.


Ontem, um relatório divulgado na Casa Branca alertou que as mudanças climáticas representam uma grave ameaça para a saúde pública — em muitos aspectos, pior do que a poliomielite — e atacará especialmente gestantes, crianças, pessoas de baixa renda, negros, asiáticos e hispânicos.

O documento “Os impactos das mudanças climáticas na saúde humana nos EUA: uma avaliação científica”, adverte sobre os riscos arrebatadores para a saúde pública do aumento da temperatura nas próximas décadas, que também levaria a mais mortes e doenças por insolação, insuficiência respiratória e doenças como o vírus do Nilo Ocidental.

Leading Climate Scientists: ‘We Have A Global Emergency,’ Must Slash CO2 ASAP (Think Progress)

 MAR 22, 2016 2:38 PM


James Hansen and 18 leading climate experts have published a peer-reviewed version of their 2015 discussion paper on the dangers posed by unrestricted carbon pollution. The study adds to the growing body of evidence that the current global target or defense line embraced by the world — 2°C (3.6°F) total global warming — “could be dangerous” to humanity.

That 2°C warming should be avoided at all costs is not news to people who pay attention to climate science, though it may be news to people who only follow the popular media. The warning is, after all, very similar to the one found in an embarrassingly underreported report last year from 70 leading climate experts, who had been asked by the world’s leading nations to review the adequacy of the 2°C target.

Specifically, the new Hansen et al study — titled “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 C global warming could be dangerous” — warns that even stabilizing at 2°C warming might well lead to devastating glacial melt, multimeter sea level rise and other related catastrophic impacts. The study is significant not just because it is peer-reviewed, but because the collective knowledge about climate science in general and glaciology in particular among the co-authors is quite impressive.

Besides sea level rise, rapid glacial ice melt has many potentially disastrous consequences, including a slowdown and eventual shutdown of the key North Atlantic Ocean circulation and, relatedly, an increase in super-extreme weather. Indeed, that slowdown appears to have begun, and, equally worrisome, it appears to be supercharging both precipitation, storm surge, and superstorms along the U.S. East Coast (like Sandy and Jonas), as explained here.

It must be noted, however, that the title of the peer-reviewed paper is decidedly weaker than the discussion paper’s “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2°C global warming is highly dangerous.” The switch to “could be dangerous” is reminiscent of the switch (in the opposite direction) from the inaugural 1965 warning required for cigarette packages, “Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health” to the 1969 required label “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health.”

And yes I’m using the analogy to suggest readers should not be sanguine about the risks we face at 2°C warning. Based on both observations and analysis, the science is clearly moving in the direction that 2°C warming is not “safe” for humanity. But as Hansen himself acknowledged Monday on the press call, the record we now have of accelerating ice loss in both Greenland and West Antarctica is “too short to infer accurately” whether the current exponential trend will continue through the rest of the century.

Hansen himself explains the paper’s key conclusions and the science underlying them in a new video:

The fact that 2°C total warming is extremely likely to lock us in to sea level rise of 10 feet or more has been obvious for a while now. The National Science Foundation (NSF) itself issued a news release back in 2012 with the large-type headline, “Global Sea Level Likely to Rise as Much as 70 Feet in Future Generations.” The lead author explained, “The natural state of the Earth with present carbon dioxide levels is one with sea levels about 70 feet higher than now.” Heck, a 2009 paper in Science found the same thing.

What has changed is our understanding of just how fast sea levels could rise. In 2014 and 2015, a number of major studies revealed that large parts of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are unstable and headed toward irreversible collapse — and some parts may have already passed the point of no return. Another 2015 study found that global sea level rise since 1990 has been speeding up even faster than we knew.

The key question is how fast sea levels can rise this century and beyond. In my piece last year on Hansen’s discussion draft, I examined the reasons the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and scientific community have historically low-balled the plausible worst-case for possible sea level rise by 2100. I won’t repeat that all here.

The crux of the Hansen et al. forecast can be found in this chart on ice loss from the world’s biggest ice sheet:

Antarctic ice mass change

Antarctic ice mass change from GRACE satallite data (red) and surface mass balance method (MBM, blue). Via Hansen et al.

Hansen et al. ask the question: if the ice loss continues growing exponentially how much ice loss (and hence how much sea level rise) will there be by century’s end? If, for instance, the ice loss rate doubles every 10 years for the rest of the century (light green), then we would see multi-meter sea level rise before 2100? On the other hand, it is pretty clear just from looking at the chart that there isn’t enough data to make a certain projection for the next eight decades.

The authors write, “our conclusions suggest that a target of limiting global warming to 2°C … does not provide safety.” On the one hand, they note, “we cannot be certain that multi-meter sea level rise will occur if we allow global warming of 2 C.” But, on the other hand, they point out:

There is a possibility, a real danger, that we will hand young people and future generations a climate system that is practically out of their control.
We conclude that the message our climate science delivers to society, policymakers, and the public alike is this: we have a global emergency. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions should be reduced as rapidly as practical.

I have talked to many climate scientists who quibble with specific elements of this paper, in particular whether the kind of continued acceleration of ice sheet loss is physically plausible. But I don’t find any who disagree with the bold-faced conclusions.

Since there are a growing number of experts who consider that 10 feet of sea level rise this century is a possibility, it would be unwise to ignore the warning. That said, on our current emissions path we already appear to be headed toward the ballpark of four to six feet of sea level rise in 2100 — with seas rising up to one foot per decade after that. That should be more than enough of a “beyond adaptation” catastrophe to warrant strong action ASAP.

The world needs to understand the plausible worst-case scenario for climate change by 2100 and beyond — something that the media and the IPCC have failed to deliver. And the world needs to understand the “business as usual” set of multiple catastrophic dangers of 4°C if we don’t reverse course now. And the world needs to understand the dangers of even 2°C warming.

So kudos to all of these scientists for ringing the alarm bell: James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Paul Hearty, Reto Ruedy, Maxwell Kelley, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Gary Russell, George Tselioudis, Junji Cao, Eric Rignot, Isabella Velicogna, Blair Tormey, Bailey Donovan, Evgeniya Kandiano, Karina von Schuckmann, Pushker Kharecha, Allegra N. Legrande, Michael Bauer, and Kwok-Wai Lo.

Risk of multiple tipping points should be triggering urgent action on climate change (Science Daily)

To avoid multiple climate tipping points, policy makers need to act now to stop global CO2 emissions by 2050 and meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, a new study has said

March 21, 2016
University of Exeter
Pioneering new research shows that existing studies have massively under-valued the risk that ongoing carbon dioxide emissions pose of triggering damaging tipping points.

Detailed view of Earth from space. Credit: Elements of this image furnished by NASA; © timothyh / Fotolia

To avoid multiple climate tipping points, policy makers need to act now to stop global CO2 emissions by 2050 and meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, a new study has said.

Pioneering new research, carried out by the Universities of Exeter, Zurich, Stanford and Chicago, shows that existing studies have massively under-valued the risk that ongoing carbon dioxide emissions pose of triggering damaging tipping points.

The collaborative study suggests that multiple interacting climate tipping points could be triggered this century if climate change isn’t tackled — leading to irreversible economic damages worldwide.

Using a state-of-the-art model, the researchers studied the effects of five interacting tipping points on the global economy — including a collapse of the Atlantic overturning circulation, a shift to a more persistent El Nino regime, and a dieback of the Amazon rainforest.

The study showed that the possibility of triggering these future tipping points increased the present ‘social cost of carbon’ in the model by nearly eightfold — from US$15 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, to US$116/tCO2.

Furthermore, the model suggests that passing some tipping points increases the likelihood of other tipping points occurring to such an extent that the social cost of carbon would further increase abruptly.

The recommended policy therefore involves an immediate, massive effort to reduce CO2 emissions, stopping them completely by the middle of the century, in order to stabilize climate change at less than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Professor Tim Lenton, from the University of Exeter and one of the authors of the study said: “Irreversible tipping points are one of the biggest risks we face if we carry on changing the climate. Our work shows that taking that risk seriously radically changes policy recommendations. We need to act urgently and globally to meet the most ambitious targets agreed in Paris last December and reduce the risk of future tipping points.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Yongyang Cai, Timothy M. Lenton, Thomas S. Lontzek. Risk of multiple interacting tipping points should encourage rapid CO2 emission reductionNature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2964

Global warming pushes wines into uncharted terroir (Science Daily)

Heat has decoupled French grapes from old weather patterns


March 21, 2016


The Earth Institute at Columbia University


In much of France and Switzerland, the best wine years are traditionally those with an exceptionally hot summer and late-season drought. Now, a study out this week shows that warming climate has largely removed the drought factor from the centuries-old early-harvest equation. It is only the latest symptom that global warming is affecting biological systems and agriculture.

Wine grapes in an experimental vineyard in the Vaucluse region of France, June 2014. Credit: Elizabeth Wolkovich

Many factors go into making good wine: grape variety, harvesting practices, a vineyard’s slope and aspect, soil, climate and so on–that unique combination that adds up to a wine’s terroir. Year-to-year weather also matters greatly. In much of France and Switzerland, the best years are traditionally those with abundant spring rains followed by an exceptionally hot summer and late-season drought. This drives vines to put forth robust, fast-maturing fruit, and brings an early harvest. Now, a study out this week in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that warming climate has largely removed the drought factor from the centuries-old early-harvest equation. It is only the latest symptom that global warming is affecting biological systems and agriculture.

Temperature is the main driver of grape-harvest timing, and in the last 30 years, progressive warming has pushed harvest dates dramatically forward across the globe, from California to Australia, South America and Europe. In France, where records go back centuries, since 1980 harvest dates have advanced two weeks over the 400-year mean. These earlier harvests have meant some very good years. But existing studies suggest that regions here and elsewhere will eventually become too hot for traditionally grown grapes. Vineyards may then have to switch to hotter-climate varieties, change long-established methods, move or go out of business. The earth is shifting, and terroirs with it.

In the new study, scientists analyzed 20th and 21st-century weather data, premodern reconstructions of temperature, precipitation and soil moisture, and vineyard records and going back to 1600. They showed that in the relatively cool winemaking areas of France and Switzerland, early harvests have always required both above-average air temperatures and late-season drought. The reason, they say: in the past, droughts helped heighten temperature just enough to pass the early-harvest threshold. Basic physics is at work: normally, daily evaporation of moisture from soil cools earth’s surface. If drought makes soils dryer, there will be less evaporation–and thus the surface will get hotter. The authors say that up to the 1980s, the climate was such that without the extra kick of heat added by droughts, vineyards could not get quite hot enough for an early harvest. That has now changed; the study found that since then, overall warming alone has pushed summer temperatures over the threshold without the aid of drought. On the whole, France warmed about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) during the 20th century, and the upward climb has continued.

“Now, it’s become so warm thanks to climate change, grape growers don’t need drought to get these very warm temperatures,” said lead author Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “After 1980, the drought signal effectively disappears. That means there’s been a fundamental shift in the large-scale climate under which other, local factors operate.”

The regions affected include familiar names: among them, Alsace, Champagne, Burgundy, Languedoc. These areas grow Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and other fairly cool-weather varieties that thrive within specific climate niches, and turn out exceptionally after an early harvest. Study coauthor Elizabeth Wolkovich, an ecologist at Harvard University, said that the switch has not hurt the wine industry yet. “So far, a good year is a hot year,” she said. However, she pointed out that the earliest French harvest ever recorded–2003, when a deadly heat wave hit Europe and grapes were picked a full month ahead of the once-usual time — did not produce particularly exceptional wines. “That may be a good indicator of where we’re headed,” she said. “If we keep pushing the heat up, vineyards can’t maintain that forever.”

Across the world, scientists have found that each degree Centigrade (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming pushes grape harvests forward roughly six or seven days. With this effect projected to continue, a 2011 study by Lamont-Doherty climate scientist Yves Tourre suggests that a combination of natural climate variability and human-induced warming could force finicky Pinot Noir grapes completely out of many parts of Burgundy. Other reports say Bordeaux could lose its Cabernets and Merlots. A widely cited though controversial 2013 study projects that by 2050, some two-thirds of today’s wine regions may no longer have climates suitable for the grapes they now grow. But other regions might beckon. Grapes no longer viable in California’s Napa Valley may find suitable homes in Washington or British Columbia. Southern England may become the new Champagne; the hills of central China the new Chile. Southern Australia’s big wineries may have to land further south, in Tasmania. “If people are willing to drink Italian varieties grown in France and Pinot Noir from Germany, maybe we can adapt,” said Wolkovich.

However, this begs the question of whether vineyards, or for that matter anything can just be picked up and moved. The earth is increasingly crowded with agriculture and infrastructure, and land may or may not be available for wine grapes. If it is, the soils, slopes and other exact conditions of old vineyards would be difficult or impossible duplicate. And, grape harvests are only one of many biological cycles already being affected by warming climate, with uncertain results. Many insects, plants, and marine creatures are rapidly shifting their ranges poleward. No one yet knows whether many species or entire ecosystems can survive such rapid changes, and the same almost certainly goes for wine grapes.

Liz Thach, a professor of management and wine business at Sonoma State University, said the study is telling growers what they already know. “Some people may still be skeptical about global warming, but not anyone in the wine industry,” she said. “Everyone believes it, because everyone sees it year by year–it’s here, it’s real, it’s not going away.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Benjamin I. Cook, Elizabeth M. Wolkovich. Climate change decouples drought from early wine grape harvests in FranceNature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2960

On the anthropology of climate change (Eurozine)

Thomas Hylland EriksenDasa Licen

Original in English
First published in Razpotja 22 (2015)

Contributed by Razpotja
© Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Dasa Licen / Razpotja
© Eurozine

A conversation with Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Mainstream literature on globalization tends not to take the uniqueness of each locality seriously enough, says Thomas Hylland Eriksen. He explains how the anthropology of climate change is responding to the need for an analysis of the global situation seen from below.

Dasa Licen: You have a blog, a vlog where you report on your fieldwork, where you look a bit like Indiana Jones. On top of that, you write popular articles and essays. You seem to believe that media are very important for anthropology.

Thomas Hylland Eriksen: I think anthropologists should be more conscious about how they are perceived in the wider public. Unfortunately, for decades now, there has in many places been a certain withdrawal of anthropology from the public sphere. There are many burning issues, from climate change to identity politics to debates on human nature, where anthropologists are not present the way they could be. This was not always the case.

If you go back a few generations, there were many anthropologists who were also engaged public intellectuals. They were visible, well known, they wrote popular books, took part in political debates, and so on. Think of a scholar like Margaret Mead back in the 1960s: her research was controversial, but she succeeded in placing anthropology on the map by being engaged in important debates. Nowadays, there are important discussions where anthropologists would have a lot to offer, yet they are more or less absent.

An obvious example is identity politics, but you can also take the debates on human nature. In many western countries, these have been monopolized by evolutionary biologists or psychologists. The things anthropologists say about human nature are quite different, and while we are rather good at criticizing sociobiology and evolutionary perspectives amongst ourselves, we rarely go out and present our nuanced message to a wider public. It is a striking fact that the most famous anthropologists today is not an anthropologists. He is an ornithologist and physiologist called Jared Diamond who has written bestsellers about where we come from and where we are going. His latest book called The World until Yesterday is a sort of anthropological treatise about other cultures, traditional peoples, and about the kind of wisdom they contribute to the modern world. His book has not been very well received by anthropologists, because he gets a lot of things nearly right. Although he has not been trained as an anthropologist, he uses anthropological sources and asks the kind of questions we do. But he manages to do it in a way that makes people want to read his book. We should learn from these examples.

DL: We all know the case of the doctor who is walking down the street and sees an injured person: he must offer to help. Do you think something similar applies to anthropologists in the face of global crises?

THE: I do think so. In my own work, I try to address two big lumps of questions. One of them is the extent to which we can apply anthropology as a tool to understand the contemporary world. This is what my project “Overheating” is about. The second is a more general question: what is it to be human? There are two groups of answers, one of them says, well a human being is a small twig on a branch on the big tree of life: that’s the story of evolution and while it generates some important some insight, it leaves aside a different set of questions about human subjectivity and emotions. I am talking about the complexities of life, all the existential struggles that human beings are confronted with. This perspective generates an entirely different set or answers, which are at the basis of what we do as anthropologists. By addressing them, we can contribute to a more nuanced view to what it is to be a human.

We are not only homo economics, merely maximizing creatures, and although instincts can be important for understanding our behaviour, we are not driven by them but immersed in a network of additional aspects. We are also not just social animals… Clifford Geertz insisted that human beings are primarily self-defining animals. Such a perspective enables not only a better understanding of the realities of human lives, but it also has its moral implications.

DL: Which ones?

THE: Let me give you an example. One of my PhD students works in rural Sierra Leone. It is an overheated place, in the sense that the Chinese and other foreign investors are coming in, opening up mines, new roads are being built… For many people this means opportunities, for many others it means misery. My student asks a guy, “so how do you explain these changes taking place in your community in the last years?”, and this guy would just shrug and say, “well you know man, it’s the global”. We have to try to find out what exactly he means when he says “it’s the global”.

DL: Is this the aim of the Overheating project which you mentioned?

THE: What we are trying to do with Overheating is to fill a gap in the literature on globalization: we are trying to say something general about what I call the clash of scales, the dichotomy between the large and local. The large scale is the world of global capitalism, of the environment and of nation-states; on the other hand, there are the lives people live in their own communities. We are a group of researchers who’ve done fieldwork in lots of locations around the world and we try to produce ethnographic material that is comparable, so that we can use our material to create, if I can be a bit pretentious, an anthropological history of the early twenty-first century. So we are working very hard to create an analysis of the global situation seen from below.

DL: Your project seems so wide that it almost looks like the anthropology of everything…

THE: Not quite. It is the anthropology of global crisis as perceived locally. Say you live somewhere in Australia and all of a sudden a mining company arrives next door and disrupts the ecosystem, and you ask yourself, “who can I blame and what can I do”? It’s the kind of question that many people ask when confronted with changes on the large scale that affect their local community. Our informants do not distinguish between the environment, the economy, identity as they all interact and effect local life. What we are interested in is the anthropology of local responses to global changes.

DL: So, you are trying to advance an anthropological understanding of globalization?

THE: Yes. I think one of the shortcomings of the mainstream literature on globalization is that the uniqueness of each locality is not taken seriously enough: the local is present mostly in the form of anecdotes from people’s lives. The problem of anthropological studies of globalization has often been the opposite: you go really deeply into one place and you neglect the wider perspective. We are trying to feel the gap in both approaches. The metaphor I often use is that of a social scientist who sits in a helicopter with a pair of binoculars and looks at the world. This would be the case of authors like Anthony Giddens or Manuel Castells. On the other hand, you have the person who works with a magnifying glass. We are trying to bring these two levels closer.

DL: The seriousness of global warming has been neglected by anthropologists, indeed by all social sciences for a long time.

THE: This is changing. The anthropology of climate change has become one of the big growth industries in academia, just as ethnicity and nationalism were big in the 1970s and 1980s. You are from Slovenia, you know the breakup of Yugoslavia, which came as a shock to us and we needed to understand what was happening. The genocide in Rwanda happened around the same time, Hindu nationalists came to power in India, contradicting everything we thought we knew about the country, controversies emerged around migration, multiculturalism, diversity, Islam in western Europe. After the turn of the century, the issue of climate change came to be understood as another layer on top of these issues.

DL: When did you develop your interest in climate change?

THE: It must have been many years ago but it took a while before I got the opportunity to look at these interconnected issues more closely. We are not geophysicists, we do not know much about CO2, we cannot predict the temperature of the world. What we can do is study how people respond, how they react, how they talk about it and what they do.

Summit camp on top of the Austfonna Ice Cap in Svalbard (Norwegian Arctic). Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Thorben Dunse, University of Oslo. Source: Flickr

The dangerous thing about climate changes is that it has deep consequences, and yet it is hard to find anybody to blame. Think about it: say you are in small town or village in the Andes in Peru and you notice there is something odd with the water. It is not the way it used to be, you notice the glaciers are melting, and then you know that mining company has opened an operation venue nearby. You think the mining company must be to blame, because they probably pumped out all the water and they destabilized the local climate, and so you march up to them telling them “look, you are taking away our water, we need compensation”, and they come out and they say “I’m sorry but it is not us, it is global climate change”. Where do you go to address that question? Do you write to Obama, do you write a letter to the Chinese?

The concern with climate change can be very serious in the sense that it creates a sense of powerlessness. We just have to let things happen. For this reason I have been interested in how environmental engagement begins with things that are within your reach. I probably can’t do anything about world climate, but maybe I can save some trees, or the dolphins in the harbour. That’s how engagement begins.

DL: Do you feel such helplessness when you talk about global warming and they ask you, “so what is your solution”?

THE: Good question. I guess we all have to find the best way of acting where we are. It is not as if you or I have the responsibility to save to planet, or that you will fail if you have not been able to save it. I remember that as a schoolboy I had a devout Christian teacher who was raised by missionaries in Japan. Being a Christian missionary in Japan can be very difficult because the people are generally not very interested in evangelization. She told us about a fellow Christian who had spend his entire life as a missionary in Japan and succeeded in converting one person, which made his life feel worthwhile. He felt saving one soul was well worth 50 years of hard work. We should not be overambitious regarding what we are able to achieve. We can take part in public debates, add one drop of complexity, a drop of doubt. Maybe sometimes it is enough or rather, it is all we can do.

DL: As an anthropologist you are not allowed to pass judgment on people, however sometimes it is extremely hard to avoid judgment, for example when we are confronted with obtuse forms of climate change denial.

THE: Traditionally, anthropologists have not been too good at thinking of themselves as engaged subjects, we have been taught not to pass judgment, to just lay out the facts and say, well this is what the world looks like and this is why this makes sense to those people and not to those people, and I believe that this paradigm, this kind of relative paradigm has collapsed. Such an approach can no longer function precisely for the reasons I was suggesting: we are now all in the same boat. So there is no good reason anymore to make sharp distinctions between scholarship and the wider public, because we are facing the same radical challenges. We are all part of the same moral space and sometimes we have to take an ethical or political stance, anything else would be irresponsible. But we have to strike a balance between that kind of engagement and our credibility as researchers.

Back to your question: when I study people who deny the reality of climate change I have to take their view of world seriously. Many of them really believe in the paradigm or progress, industrialism and so on. This to me is a key double bind in contemporary civilization: there is no easy way out, between economic growth and the ecological sustainability. There is no reason that anybody should have the answer. When people ask me what to do, I have to say: “Sorry, I am trying to work this out together with you. I do not have the answer.”

DL: You probably know Slavoj Zizek, he is more famous than Slovenia. He has had an ongoing dispute with Dipesh Chakrabarty on a related issue: should we first do something about global warming or engage in revolutionary struggle? Zizek believes climate change cannot be addressed outside the struggle for global emancipation, Chakrabarty on the other hand insists on the need to strike a historical compromise on a global level. What is your stance in this polemics?

THE: That is a very interesting question. On the one hand, I see the biggest tension in contemporary civilization is that between economic growth, which for two hundred years has been based on fossil fuels, and sustainability. Fossil fuels have been a blessing for humanity. They have created the foundations for modern life. Yet they are now becoming a damnation, a threat to civilization. This is hard to see from the viewpoint of a classical progressivist perspective.

This is strongly linked to another contradiction, the tension between a class based politics and green politics. What is more important, to do something about inequality or to save the world climate? Sometimes you just cannot pursue both aims. I worked in Australia, in a place where virtually everybody works directly or indirectly in industry. They have a huge power station, a cement factory, it is an industrial hub. Very few people have any environmental engagement to talk of. There is nothing about climate change in the local newspaper. It is all about industrial growth and job security. Being an environment activist in that place is very hard because your neighbours are not going to like it, but they have a very strong union-based socialist movement in that town. Those people see green politics as something that is a kind of a middle class thing. They associate it with cappuccino-sipping do-gooder students in Sydney and Melbourne, whereas us, the hard working industrial employees are the ones actually producing the cappuccino, the tablets, and they are not aware of where their wealth comes from. There is a widespread feeling of the hypocrisy of green politics.

Where do I stand? I think saving the climate is the main issue. But it should be pursued with concern for social justice. The first priority has to be to create sustainable jobs. If you take away a million jobs, you have to reproduce those jobs somewhere else. This leads me to what I think could have been an answer, had Zizek been aware of it, namely the anthropological school called human economy. There is a very creative English anthropologist who works in South Africa called Keith Hart who works from this perspective. David Graeber is sort of within the same world, looking at feasible economic alternatives to global neoliberalism. We are not talking about state socialism here: you are from Slovenia, you are too young to remember it, but state socialism did not make people too happy and it was not good for the environment either.

The point is that we need to talk about the economy in terms of human needs. The goal of economy is to satisfy human needs; not just material needs but also the need to something meaningful, to be useful for others, to see the results of what you are doing. The point of economy is not only to generate profits, but to try to fight alienation.

DL: You wrote somewhere that the Left lacks an understanding of multiculturalism and knowledge of the environment, and it tends to neglect these two fields that are extremely important right now. Isn’t that a surprising statement given that in the West, these issues have become almost synonymous with leftism?

THE: Things are indeed changing. That is probably one of the reasons Slavoj Zizek gets so angry sometimes, because he identifies with the Left, but the Left has abandoned his positions. I think many of us have the same feeling of being ideologically homeless. For 200 hundred years, the Left was quite good at promoting equality and social justice, presuming that economic growth will continue indefinitely. Then, in the 1980s multiculturalism emerged. The Left tried to appropriate it, tried to promote diversity, but it has not succeeded, because leftist movements have been good at promoting equality but not difference. Then environmental issues came as another factor complicating the picture. What do you do when you have to choose between class politics and green politics? You probably stick with class politics, but then you realize it is part of the problem, especially if you live in a rich country, as I do, where the working class flies to southern Europe all the time, going on holiday, driving cars, eating imported meat and so on. There is a big dilemma here. Again I must insist I don’t have the final answer, but at least if we identify the problem we make small steps in the right direction.

By the way, I very strongly disagree with what Zizek says about multiculturalism. Whenever he makes jokes about it, he produces a caricature of multiculturalism, rather than a parody which is arguably his aim. He does not really know what he is talking about. He knows a lot of things, but multiculturalism is not one of his strong points.

DL: Zizek has advanced a positive interpretation of the Judeo-Christian tradition from a leftist perspective. Do you think that this tradition, which sees the Earth as ultimately doomed, poses a problem for environmentalism?

THE: Good question. Probably there is something about the way in which many people talk about climate change that resembles these Judeo-Christian ideas about the end of time. We are approaching the end, we are approaching the final phase. Think about the popularity of post-apocalyptic films in science fiction. It started already in the early 1980s with Mad Max films, and there has been a series of Hollywood and other movies about the world after the apocalypse. There is a real thirst for this sort of narratives. In the text I am writing now I just quoted T. S. Eliot who writes famously that the world ends not with a bomb but with a whimper. There is no before and after. Many of the communist revolutionaries held similar chiliastic ideas: things are going to get worse and worse and worse, and then after the revolution everything is going to be fine. But we have some 200 years of experience with revolutions, and we know they tend to reproduce many of the problems they were meant to solve, and on top of that they create new ones. Take the Arab spring in North Africa and the Middle East. I think it is very dangerous to behave as if the history has a direction.

DL: This is somewhat connected to the wider issue of the role of human civilization in the environmental history of the planet. You use the term Anthropocene, yet some find it inappropriate as it puts humans in the centre, not only as the source of the trouble we are facing but also as more important than anything else on the planet. How do you feel about that?

THE: Some scientists want to have it both ways. Some think in terms of the changes that characterize the Anthropocene and at the same time they emphasize that humans and non-humans are really in a symbiotic relationship. I do not have a lot of patience for that kind of argument, especially if you think of the state of the world in times of climate change, with huge extractive industries, the global mining boom as the result of the growing Chinese and Indian economies, the upsurge of fracking which seems to have provided us with an almost indefinite supply of fossil fuels. I feel it is irresponsible to question the responsibility of humanity. And yet, however much I may love my cat and acknowledge that humans and domestic animals have coevolved, we must realize that human beings are special. There is no chimpanzee or the smartest of dolphins able to say, “well my dad was poor but at least he was honest”. Only human beings can create that sentence: our sense of moral responsibility is unique and we must live up to it.

DL: Speaking of moral responsibility: I understand you had an important role in the coming to terms with the Breivik tragedy…

THE: Yes, I spent about three weeks after the terrorist attack and doing little other than talking to foreign journalist and writing articles for foreign newspapers. They contacted me not only because I have been writing about identity politics and nationalism, but also because Breivik had a sort of soft spot for me. He sees me as a symbol of everything that has gone wrong in Norway, a sort of spineless effeminate cosmopolitan middle class multiculturalist Muslim lover. There has been a hardening; polarization is much more strong now than it was only 20 years.

In the 1990s, people who had said things like I do about cultural diversity would perhaps have been accused of being naive, whereas in the last few years we are increasingly being accused of being traitors – which is different. Breivik quoted me about 15 times in his manifesto and his YouTube film. You might say he had a mild obsession with me. Eventually, I was called in as a witness in the trial by the defence. Originally, the psychiatrists who examined Breivik concluded he was insane. He should have received psychiatric treatment, and thus could not be punished for what he did. Of course, at the certain level one has to be insane to kill so many innocent young people. But his ideas are not the result of mental illness, they are quite widely shared. We have websites in Norway, with 20,000 unique visits every week, that were among his favourite websites. The defence wanted to call me in as a witness to testify that although he may be a murderer, his ideas are very common, they are shared by thousands of others. Which is true, but in the end I did not have to go because they had a long list of witnesses and they only used some of them.

DL: Were you scared by this kind of exposure?

THE: Not really. But in the first few weeks after the terrorist attack when everybody in Norway was in a state of shock, I noticed that some people at the university whom I hardly knew would come over to me and were behaving unusually nicely. I realized they probably thought that was the last time they see of me because I was probably next on the dead list. Then things went back to normal. You can never feel entirely safe. Breivik reminds us that even a handful of people can do immense harm, just like the terrorist attack in United States in 2001. It has probably made society a little bit less trusting, a bit more worried. But I do not think about my own person security. About the security of my family, yes, but not mine. You cannot. That would be allowing the other people to win.

DL: Would you say that Norway has learnt anything from this tragedy?

THE: Unfortunately not. There was a chance that we could have, and many of us were hoping that an attack like that should make us understand that the idea of ethnic purity is absurd, crazy and not feasible in this century. We hoped that we could now get together to sit down and discuss these issues in a more measured, serious, balanced way, but it did not happen. It took only a couple of weeks for the usual political polarization to return. If anything, people who were against immigration became even more aggressive than before. We missed an opportunity there.

DL: You are coming to Ljubljana to a convention with the provocative title, Why the world needs anthropologists. But isn’t it a bit pretentious to suggest that the world needs us at all?

THE: That is an excellent question. I do not know whether the world needs novelists, but it probably does not does need poets. It can easily manage without them. And yet, the human need for meaning is just as powerful as the need for food and shelter. The kind of meaning sensitive and intelligent people can provide is especially important, when we need to reformulate the main questions.

I sometimes think about students of mine who are never going to work as anthropologist, they will find jobs elsewhere, but studying anthropology enables them to lead a better life because they understand more of themselves and of the world. I even think that doing anthropology makes you a better person: just like reading novels, it enables you to identify with others. When you then see the refugees in the Mediterranean, at least you know, it could have been me. You think that because you relate to people in all parts of the world. I think the main sort of moral message of anthropology perhaps is that all human lives have value, no matter how alien no matter how strange it might appear. So yes, I think world needs anthropologists, just as it needs novelists and poets.

El Niño history raises fear of cholera outbreak (SciDev.Net)


María Elena Hurtado


  • El Niño may carry disease-causing Vibrio bacteria across Pacific
  • Previous events linked to cases of diarrhoea and cholera
  • Current El Niño developing similarly to 1977 one when diarrhoea reached Peru


The ongoing El Niño event may be spreading cholera and other diseases caused by Vibrio bacteria from Asia to South America, researchers suggest.

This is because the bacteria, which are typically found in salty water, could ‘piggyback’ on zooplankton that travel to Peru and Chile with the warm easterly and southerly Pacific currents associated with El Niño, according to a comment published in Nature Microbiology last month.

Vibrio bacteria cause severe diarrhoea when people eat raw, contaminated molluscs such as oysters, clams and mussels. Such outbreaks have been linked to previous El Niño episodes.

The ongoing El Niño — dubbed El Niño Godzilla because of its intensity — may be the strongest on record. It is developing similarly to an episode in 1977, during which a diarrhoea epidemic broke out in Peru. In that year, Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria caused an estimated 10,000 cases of severe gastroenteritis along the South American coastline.

In 1997, another strong El Niño year, the Vibrio parahaemolyticus strain of the bacteria, which had emerged in India, plagued the South American coast.

“The emergence of cases correlated with southward dissemination of El Niño water during the 1997 event,” says Jaime Martinez-Urtaza, a biologist at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, and a coauthor of the article.

In terms of cholera, South America had been free of the disease for almost a century — until it reemerged in the early 1990s. Within weeks, cholera spread across South and Central America, going on to cause more than a million cases and 10,000 deaths by 1994.

Martinez-Urtaza says the cholera outbreak “coincided in both time and space with a significant El Niño event in late 1991 and early 1992”.

Ronnie Gavilán, a researcher at Peru’s National Institute of Health, says there is other evidence for El Niño’s influence on Vibrio bacteria in the Americas. He points out that, during warm El Niño events, Vibrioinfections continue to spread in the cold winter months, when they usually only occur in hot summers.

The current El Niño has not yet led to a Vibrio outbreak, but health authorities in Chile and Peru are closely monitoring water quality near the coast.

The delay could be “because the pathogens that may have arrived during the summer season may show up years later”, says Romilio Orellana, a biochemist at the University of Chile.


Jaime Martinez-Urtaza and others Is El Niño a long-distance corridor for waterborne disease? (Nature Microbiology, 24 February 2016)

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Nasa aims to move Earth (The Guardian)

Scientists’ answer to global warming: nudge the planet farther from Sun

Special report: global warming

, science editor

Sunday 10 June 2001 Last modified on Friday 1 January 2016 

Scientists have found an unusual way to prevent our planet overheating: move it to a cooler spot.

All you have to do is hurtle a few comets at Earth, and its orbit will be altered. Our world will then be sent spinning into a safer, colder part of the solar system.

This startling idea of improving our interplanetary neighbourhood is the brainchild of a group of Nasa engineers and American astronomers who say their plan could add another six billion years to the useful lifetime of our planet – effectively doubling its working life.

‘The technology is not at all far-fetched,’ said Dr Greg Laughlin, of the Nasa Ames Research Center in California. ‘It involves the same techniques that people now suggest could be used to deflect asteroids or comets heading towards Earth. We don’t need raw power to move Earth, we just require delicacy of planning and manoeuvring.’

The plan put forward by Dr Laughlin, and his colleagues Don Korycansky and Fred Adams, involves carefully directing a comet or asteroid so that it sweeps close past our planet and transfers some of its gravitational energy to Earth.

‘Earth’s orbital speed would increase as a result and we would move to a higher orbit away from the Sun,’ Laughlin said.

Engineers would then direct their comet so that it passed close to Jupiter or Saturn, where the reverse process would occur. It would pick up energy from one of these giant planets. Later its orbit would bring it back to Earth, and the process would be repeated.

In the short term, the plan provides an ideal solution to global warming, although the team was actually concerned with a more drastic danger. The sun is destined to heat up in about a billion years and so ‘seriously compromise’ our biosphere – by frying us.

Hence the group’s decision to try to save Earth. ‘All you have to do is strap a chemical rocket to an asteroid or comet and fire it at just the right time,’ added Laughlin. ‘It is basic rocket science.’

The plan has one or two worrying aspects, however. For a start, space engineers would have to be very careful about how they directed their asteroid or comet towards Earth. The slightest miscalculation in orbit could fire it straight at Earth – with devastating consequences.

There is also the vexed question of the Moon. As the current issue of Scientific American points out, if Earth was pushed out of its current position it is ‘most likely the Moon would be stripped away from Earth,’ it states, radically upsetting out planet’s climate.

These criticisms are accepted by the scientists. ‘Our investigation has shown just how delicately Earth is poised within the solar system,’ Laughlin admitted. ‘Nevertheless, our work has practical implications. Our calculations show that to get Earth to a safer, distant orbit, it would have to pass through unstable zones and would need careful nurturing and nudging. Any alien astronomers observing our solar system would know that something odd had occurred, and would realise an intelligent lifeform was responsible.

‘And the same goes for us. When we look at other solar systems, and detect planets around other suns – which we are now beginning to do – we may see that planet-moving has occurred. It will give us our first evidence of the handiwork of extraterrestrial beings.’