So last week I had the chance to sit on stage with a handful of New York students and Bill McKibben and ask him some questions about the newly emerging climate divestment movement that a number of NY schools are beginning to work on, and which was the focus of the fossil free divestment talk that Bill gave at Cooper Union. In a nutshell, the campaign aims to get American universities (and a few other institutions) to divest their endowment money or other financial products from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. The hope is that between the financial hit that these companies might take, combined with additional efforts to weaken their political clout in Washington, we might start to shift the discussion around climate change and energy politics in the US. Read More
This Friday I had the chance to help facilitate a workshop with the New York City Nutrition Education Network, better known as NYCNEN. Held at The New School, the workshop was part of their May General Meeting. The overarching theme for the meeting was “Developing Partnerships for a Healthier NYC: A Workshop Exploring Resource Mapping and Cu...[more]Read more
Last month I had the chance to write a response piece for the IRCPL, where a friend happens to work, about a public talk given by Wallack Broecker at Columbia. The published piece can be read on the IRCPL website here.
What follows here is an extended version I originally wrote, and decided to publish here, since it has additional multimedia better suited to a post here.
As a lifelong advocate of environmental education and a student of catastrophic and apocalyptic discourses in popular culture today, I was excited to hear that Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL) was bringing Wallace Broecker to talk about climate change and apocalypse as part of their yearlong series Apocalypse Now, which is billed as a “series of conversations with writers that explores our current fascination with apocalyptic visions.” The talk also included NY Times writer John Broder, who covers environmental issues in Washington. Read More
Andrew Cline had a recent article in The Atlantic where he attacks Obama for a recent campaign speech where Obama made the following remark: “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.” The article, called What ‘You Didn’t Build That’ Really Means—and Why Romney Can’t Explain It, claims to offer a critique of Obama’s comments as well as a political analysis of what a savvy Romney campaign should have done in response. The problems with Cline’s piece, and there are many, can be summed up with one simple phrase–historical ignorance fueled by blind American patriotism. Cline, who is editorial editor at the New Hampshire Union Leader, is no Obama fan to begin with, but it is his argument, rather than his party politics, that really stinks. But for some reason this piece, which has drawn a lively response on The Atlantic‘s web site, seems to stand out as unusually bad even for the Atlantic audience. As one particularly incensed commentator remarked in response to the article: “I’ve just decided to never, ever renew my subscription to the Atlantic.” “The writer of this article should be ashamed for pandering to pathetic propagandizing,” fumed another reader.
It’s not often that I find myself making such a suggestion, but the would would be a better place if Australian real estate developer and moral disease David Nilsson suddenly “disappeared” while on a trip to the Amazon. It would in fact be quite fitting.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reported in July of last year (Carbon Cowboys 7/23/11):
Nilsson first travelled upriver from Iquitos in April last year to a rendezvous with tribal leaders…the Matses were intrigued by the arrival of this unknown, wealthy Australian. He promised that he would make them rich, and share half of any profits from using their land as a carbon sink with local people…But the draft ”joint venture agreements” he presented to tribal leaders had a clause saying that the contracts must be kept secret and that showing them to anyone else would constitute a ”material breach”. Read More
This post is a little dated now, but still worth highlighting in my opinion.
In a surprising turn of recent events, the North Carolina legislature voted July 3rd that history is not really history, but we can still use it to make legislation about the future, as long as we don’t really take the future into account, thereby foreclosing any chance of seeing the future, thanks to living in the past which is not really the past. If this sounds like a bunch of confusing nonsense, you’re probably not alone. Read More
While I’ve written about US-Mexican border politics before, I even did a Masters thesis on border politics, the state of affairs today in Northern Mexico is rapidly spiraling out of control. As an example, this picture from a recent ABC article in particular really struck me–an image of silver and gold plated and diamond encrusted assault rifles–seized from the Sinaloa cartel by the Mexican military in 2010. This is the hidden side of the Mexican drug wars that Americans rarely see or hear about.
I can’t even begin to imagine the reality of someone who would want something like this, and who has no problem either personally executing–or order the execution–of thousands of people every year. To really get a sense of the immensity of this reality, consider the following stats from the ABC article:
“The trade is worth between $19 billion and $29 billion a year, according to the FBI, and has resulted in the deaths of at least 50,000 people since 2006. And the violence is escalating. According to a Wall Street Journal report, 22,000 people have been killed since 2010 – that is one death every 35 minutes.”
While I’m not one to advocate a utilitarian approach to life, if I were, I think the math calculations would work out so something like the following:
Time Period: 2006-2012 = 6 years
Death Count (2006-2012) = 50,000
Revenue (per year) = $19-29 billion – Let’s assume the low end for now ($19 B)
Revenue over time (2006-2012) = $114 B or ($114,000,000,000)
50,000 deaths (6 yrs) / $114,000,000,000
1 human death = $2,280,000 in profit
A Brave New World doesn’t really even begin to capture it all…
There has been a slow but stead growth in the logistics of surveillance, whether that be of people or of objects. First there was the shipping label, then the UPC or bar code, and now we have RFID, or radio frequency identification. The image to the left is of an RFID chip next to a grain of rice, giving you a size of the devices we are talking about. Some are even smaller at this point.
Whether used for commerical, military, public or educational purposes, the slow but steady growth of various surveillance technologies and their homogenizing features are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, even if we are not consciously aware of it. The following set of videos, starting with the #26 in this playlist on Transportation and Logistics, explores some of these issues in more detail, as well as their implications for the future of society. Enjoy.
YouTube meet Google meet Me
Until next time…keep calm and carry on.
As I’ve discussed in an earlier post, the Anthropocene is a concept coined a little over a decade ago by scientists to describe the massive scale of changes happening to the Earth’s biosphere directly linked to human actions. This past week provided one of the best examples of what the Anthropocene looks like in practice: record breaking warm weather, historically unprecedented catastrophic weather, massive crop disasters from exotic insect threats, and a decade of massive natural disasters all linked to human activity.
Welcome to the Anthropocene, where up is down and down is up, and catastrophe is all around. Read More
“I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers.”
–TN Governor Bill Haslam on the new Tennessee law mandating creationism be taught in science curriculum.
This week, like so many, has been one of those crazy periods of unrelated and unrelenting randomness, occasionally punctuated with a few rays of sunlight amidst an otherwise unsettling and stressful Spring. Ok, what am I talking about? Well, rather than try and explain it all in a coherent way, let me offer you a random sample–a meze if you will, of my own personal News of the Weird for this week.
A quick note on the list below: I have a bad habit of finding oodles of interesting news stories without time to reflect on them. As I’m surfing the internets and come across an interesting story I dump the link into a draft blog post, with plans to come back later and write about it. This post was originally about the Anthropocene, a part 2 continuation, but as I added more related–or what I thought were related stories–the original Anthropocene thread got lost–don’t worry, I’ll write that post soon, in a future post. So here is this week’s News of the Weird, compiled from my web travails… Read More
The Politics of AIDS and HIV
1981 is often pointed to as the start of public awareness about HIV and AIDS, marking the beginning of what would be called a human health pandemic by some public health officials. As a brief reminder of terms:
AIDS is linked to HIV’s slow attack and eventually debilitation of the human immune system beyond recoverable levels. When that happens, AIDS manifests as the final stage of a war between viruses and our body (for example, CD4 T-cells). As one description of the virus suggests, the process is similar to a viral siege against our immune system, weakening our body until finally we fall victim to the slightest sickness or virus: Read More