For years, normality has been stretched nearly to breaking-point, a rope pulled tighter and tighter, waiting for a nip of the black swan’s beak to snap it in two. Now that it’s snapped, do we tie its ends back together, or shall we undo its dangling braids, to see what we might weave from them?
humans and nature
From CBC Radio: Wind, rain, wildlife, and how they interact with the different sizes and shapes of leaves and branches all make up what David George Haskell calls the “distinct voices” of trees. His new book closely examines a dozen trees to show how they’re joined to the natural world, and to humanity as well.
From The Conversation: People around the world and throughout history have used birds to think about and predict the future. This new research project that compared reports from six continents found that people from diverse communities pay attention to particular birds and what they reveal about the world around us, from approaching weather to illness.
From ABC News: Delhi is one of 21 Indian cities that could run out of groundwater, according to a 2018 government thinktank report. Disputes over water often lead to violence, especially in the city’s unauthorised settlements. The state government and the local “water mafia” are drilling bores, further depleting groundwater and exacerbating the larger problem.
Alyssa Hull writes: We desperately need narratives that move past apocalypse as an endpoint, not only because there are people and societies already living through the Western world’s vision of climate apocalypse, but also because it can only inspire a helpless waiting for the post-apocalypse to arrive, suddenly, to cleave the past from the future.
I live in a concrete maze that boasts a few yards of curbed open space and calibrated greenery. High-rises clutter the view of sky; pigeons and mynahs rule the roofs. Urban wildlife often feels incongruous, surreal. A praying mantis sheltering from lashing rain makes the windowsill suddenly more meaningful, though that is not its purpose.
From Emerge: Gail Bradbrook, one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, writes about her experiences with psychedelic plants, which she says altered her worldview so radically as to set her on her current path to initiate social change. Bradbrook helped found, and continues to play a key role in this global movement for systemic change.
From Vice.com: Just like an animal species, our languages evolved in the context of the environments that surrounded them. When we change those environments, we threaten much more than just the physical living things that thrive there. In the parts of the world where biodiversity is most at risk, words and phrases also face extinction.
We’re mindful of what we provide for her. She has a relationship to the Land in a way that most Indigenous children do. She’s untangling the idea of growing food, of what it means to eat the food that we grow, and how to give thanks to the Land for growing the foods she eats.
From The New York Times: Scientist Monica Gagliano’s botanical research, which has broken boundaries in the field of plant behavior, indicate that plants are, to some extent, intelligent. Her experiments suggest that they can learn behaviors and remember them. Her work also suggests that plants can “hear” running water and even produce clicking noises, perhaps to communicate.
From The Atlantic: When Leuzinger saw the stump on a walk with fellow botanist Martin Bader, his head turned. He saw that even though it had no leaves, stems, or greenery of any kind, it did still contain living tissue—and when he knocked, it sounded different from deadwood. All appearances to the contrary, it’s still alive. But how?
In Richard Louv’s words: “Glenn Albrecht is among the most important eco-philosophers today. He is also a map-maker: he names the roads ahead, the dead-ends, the detours, and potential destinations. And, unlike so many scientists, he does so with a new language of emotions―those now emerging from the tragedy and the possibility of the Earth.”
Literature has always conditioned our philosophical understanding of nature. Likewise, ecology as a way of seeing and reading the world has irrevocably changed the study of literature itself. We must examine literary/cultural production in relation to questions of environmental impact, ecological thinking and the implications of revising conventional ways of articulating human with extra-human nature.
“I sprouted, thrust into this world without anyone consulting me…” Thus starts US Astronaut Don Pettit’s quasi-fictional account of ten days in the life of a plant growing on the International Space Station. Among other things, the plant expresses its growing awareness of people it interacts with, and the fact that they eat its ‘kind’.
Wendell Berry and Helena Norberg-Hodge discuss human nature, experiential knowledge, technology, happiness, wildness, and local food systems — topics which they have always commented on, but which have taken on a new urgency. They offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.
There has always been an unmistakable umbilical link between the dance form of Kerala called Theyyam and nature. The unique pantheistic art form of the Theyyam now faces increasing threats of gentrification and Brahminisation, thus paving the way for the destruction of the sacred groves where it was born. Text and photographs by Thulasi Kakkat.
Stefany Ann Goldberg writes: Famous for his plant-response studies, J.C. Bose was also the first scientist to study inorganic matter the way a biologist examines a muscle or a nerve. Bose performed his plant experiments on rocks and metals, too. Remarkably, he found that the “non-living” responded when subjected to mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli.
From The Millions: When human leaders fail us as role models, we should look to animals, says Sy Montgomery. “I can tell you that teachers are all around to help you: with four legs or two or even eight. All you have to do is recognize them as teachers and be ready to hear their truths.”
From The Guardian: White’s Natural History, a founding classic of its genre, is deemed the fourth most-published book in the English language, after the Bible, Shakespeare and Bunyan, and has certainly been in print since first publication, while the benign White himself is now recognised equally as a great stylist and pioneer ecologist. A tribute.
Ratheesh Pisharody writes: There’s really nowhere to run whether we are mammals, trees, insects or even indigenous tribes. What chances do we see for the planet’s revival? When humans take away both “space” and “time” from our co-passengers on this planet, we’re leaving no “leverage” for the others to “somehow” adjust and make it through.