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.
science & research
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 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.
The legend of Savitri and Satyavan in the Mahabharata, is a love story. Savitri, a beautiful princess, marries Satyavan, a penniless woodcutter, despite the Sage Narada warning her that Satyavan, a dead man walking, would die in one year. Now, the story of Savitri and Satyavan is being played out in real life in the ongoing climate change saga.
From BuzzFeed: The 2010s will likely lock down the record for the hottest decade so far. The 10-year stretch boasted many of the most expensive and destructive catastrophes ever. Here’s a review of six of the most devastating climate-records we broke this decade. Also, a short video featuring expert views on looming climate tipping points.
Earlier this year, over 11,000 scientists from around the world issued a signed warning stating “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency”. At the ongoing CoP-25 climate talks at Madrid, Dr. William Moomaw, one of the report’s co-authors, explains the nature of that emergency, and what we must do about it.
From The Atlantic: In the 18th century, European colonizers virtually eliminated the American bison. When we lose animals, we also lose everything those animals do. When insects decline, plants go unpollinated. When birds disappear, pests go uncontrolled and seeds stay put. When bison are exterminated, springtime changes in ways that we still don’t fully understand.
Sanjay Reddy writes: The administration of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – which Nobel prize winners Duflot and Banerjee helped pioneer – has suffered from more than a whiff of neocolonial attitudes. Arguably, all of the difficulties of RCTs stem from a single source: a failure to recognize the full personhood of those who are affected by interventions.
Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. I am a Carbon atom, writing in the hope that the intelligence operating here might be able and willing to come to our aid. In particular, I am acting on behalf of the many Carbon atoms – who are contently resting in peace, unaware that they’re in great danger.
Ayushi Uppal writes: While the concept of Anthropocene remains contested, there is consensus on the human-led changes to the climate and the need for intervention. Humanity must create a pathway from a possible ‘Hothouse earth’ to a ‘Stabilized Earth’ state, where human activities create biogeophysical feedbacks that sustain the Earth System within the planetary threshold.
From The Guardian: A recent scientific study has found that 42% of fields in Britain surveyed by farmers were seriously deficient in earthworms; in some fields they were missing altogether. Particularly hard-hit were deep-burrowing worms, which are valuable in helping soil collect and store rainwater, but were absent from 16% of fields in the study. Jules
When thinking about climate solutions, people often picture technical fixes. In principle, scientists and engineers could deploy any these–but should they? To answer this, society needs the humanities and its intangible tools, argues Steven Allison & Tyrus Miller. Also included, a talk on ‘Climate Change and the Humanities’ by Subaltern Studies pioneer Dr Dipesh Chakrabarty.
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?
David B. Lauterwasser writes: Very few people today think that our global civilization is on the brink of collapse. Most of the news consist of disturbing stories on increasingly overwhelming issues that, plainly spoken, seem impossible to solve. And yet, no one even recognizes that it is collapse that’s started to unfold all around us.
The irony couldn’t be crueler. Even as large parts of India battle floods, a new report has ranked the country 13th among “extremely highly water-stressed” nations. Alarming news, since India has “three times the population of the other 17 combined”. Former Water Resources chief Shashi Shekhar casts a knowing eye on India’s ballooning water crisis.
From BBC: “The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Climate Institute. The sense is that the end of next year is the last chance saloon for climate change.
From Trophic Tales: The focus on the welfare of individual domesticated animals might be an extension of the modernist tendency to simplify and discriminate. The morality of living, eating, and dying is more complex than two-word slogans can prescribe. If we care about animals —wild or domesticated— we’ve to think in terms of entire ecosystems.
“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’.
From NewsClick: The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), a panel that consists of 34 scientists and academics, has voted in favour of making the Anthropocene a formally defined geological unit within the official geological time scale. The term ‘Anthropocene’ denotes the current geological period, where many conditions and processes on Earth are altered by impacts of human activities.