Daily Archives: January 11, 2016

Jason Silva on Transhumanism: Are We Decommissioning Evolution?


Big Think

Published on Jan 11, 2016

Jason Silva offers a crash course on the tech-centric philosophy that seeks to overcome the limitations of humanity.

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Transcript – Transhumanism is essentially the philosophical school of thought that says that human beings should use technology to transcend their limitations. That it’s perfectly natural for us to use our tools to overcome our boundaries. To extend our minds, to extend our mindware using these technological scaffoldings. The philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers talk about technology as a scaffolding that extends our thoughts, our reach, and our vision. Ray Kurzweil reminds us 100,000 years ago in the savannahs of Africa when we picked up a stick on the floor and used it to reach a fruit on a really high tree, we’ve been using our tools to extend our reach. Technology is us. Technology is our extended phenotype as [Richard] Dawkins says. Technology is our second skin. We’re not the only species that does so. You know the termites build these enormous termite colonies, which are temperature-controlled. I mean our cities like the termite colony are really who we are, you know.

If you’re able to like make that cognitive shift and transcend what Andy Clark calls the skin bag bias and realize that we don’t end where our skin tissue ends, but that we are tethered to our technological surroundings and to our dwellings. And that what we design, designs us back because what we design is us ultimately. You start to realize that technology — we are a technology-making species the same way a spider is a spider web-making species, you know. Kevin Kelly, who co-founded Wired magazine, describes technology as the seventh kingdom of life. He calls it the technium. He says that it’s subject to the same evolutionary forces as biological evolution, you know. That’s the craziness here is that we’re finding more and more that our technological systems are mirroring some of the most advanced natural systems in nature. You know the Internet is wired like the neurons in our brain, which is wired like computer models of dark matter in the universe. They all share the same intertwingled, filamental structure. What does this tell us? That there is no distinction between the born and the made. All of it is nature; all of it is us. So to be human is to be transhuman.

The reason we’re at a pivotal point in history is because now we’ve decommissioned natural selection, you know. This notion that we are now the chief agents of evolution, right. Edward O. Wilson reminds us we now get to decide who we become. Freeman Dyson — in the near future a new generation of artists composing genomes with the fluency that [William] Blake and [Lord] Byron wrote verses. You know with biological, biotech transformation we’re talking about software that writes its own hardware. Life itself, the new canvas for the artist. Nanotechnology, patterning matter. Programmable matter. The whole world becomes computable. Life itself programmable, upgradable. What does this say about what it means to be human? It means that what it is to be human is to transform and transcend. We’ve always done it. We’re not the same species we were 100,000 years ago. We’re not going to be the same species tomorrow. Craig Venter recently said we’ve got to understand that we are a software-driven species. Change the software, change the species. And why shouldn’t we?

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

How #BlackLivesMatter is Transforming the Climate Change Debate


FORA.tv

Published on Jan 8, 2016

NAACP’s Jacqui Patterson and Millennial Action Project’s Steven Olikara look at how the next generation of climate activists responded to COP21 in Paris.

Watch the full interview: http://f4a.tv/1JcDLLy

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Will COP21 Save the Planet?


FORA.tv

Published on Jan 11, 2016

Brian Deese, Senior Advisor to President Obama, shares three big takeaways from the climate agreement in Paris.
Watch the full interview: http://f4a.tv/1Qt8QCu

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Soils host a quarter of our planet’s biodiversity


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Published on Jan 11, 2016

Biological diversity or ‘biodiversity’ is described as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, whether terrestrial, aquatic or marine”. It includes the diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species (organism diversity) and of ecosystems (ecological diversity). Soil is one of nature’s most complex ecosystems and one of the most diverse habitats on earth: it contains a myriad of different organisms, which interact and contribute to the global cycles that make all life possible. Nowhere in nature are species so densely packed as in soil communities; however, this biodiversity is little known as it is underground and largely invisible to the human eye.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice
Food-Matters

Historic Trial Lets Activists Who Blocked Oil Train Cite Climate Change Threat in Their Defense


Democracy Now!

Published on Jan 11, 2016

Democracynow.org – Five climate justice activists go on trial in Washington state today for tying themselves to a 25-foot tripod structure to block a mile-long oil train. The protesters, members of the activist group Rising Tide Seattle, demanded a halt of shipments of fossil fuels through the Northwest following a string of derailments in the U.S. and Canada. In an unprecedented move, the presiding judge will allow the defendants to argue their actions were necessary because of the threat of climate change. We speak with Abby Brockway, one of the members of the Delta 5, and Tim DeChristopher, founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, who spent 21 months in federal custody for posing as a bidder in 2008 to prevent oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in his home state of Utah.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Goldman Sachs | Our Thinking – China’s Environment: Big Issues, Accelerating Effort, Ample Opportunities

http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/chinas-environment.html

Unprecedented growth has led to high levels of pollution in China’s air, water and soil. Heavy metal contamination affects 12 million tons of grain in China every year, enough to feed 24 million people, equal to the population of Australia. With 60% of the country’s groundwater unfit for human consumption, calls to fight pollution have grown louder across China.

Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research explores how these factors are combining to accelerate China’s environmental initiatives, resulting in unprecedented government spending and ample investment opportunities.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Madeleine Charney – Urban Agriculture – Subject Research Guides at University of Massachusetts Amherst

This Course Guide will support your research process for Urban Agriculture, taught by Helena Farrell.

Helena K Farrell
hfarrell
(413) 545-2414
Title: Continuing Education Instructor
Department: Continuing & Professional Education, Landscape Architecture & Regional Plan
Work Address: Mass Ventures Building, Hadley

Urban Agriculture
STOCKSCH 258 Spring 2016
Students will learn about innovative production methods and critical social, economic, and environmental dimensions of modern day urban agriculture. Scholarly articles and videos, a custom library research guide, and significant research support from the instructor provide a strong foundation for students to investigate important topics and evaluate the performance of real life urban farm systems. The course will consist of lectures, readings, videos, and research assignments in which students critically assess major strengths, weaknesses and issues of 21st century urban farm systems.
Open to Sustainable Food and Farming majors only.
Instructor: Helena Farrell

Madeleine Charney, Agriculture Librarian is available to assist you via e-mail, phone or in person. Naka Ishii is the other Agriculture Librarian.

You can also contact other UMass librarians via e-mail, phone, text and IM.

Or contact another subject specialist librarian.

P.S. This course is part of the UMass Libraries Open Educational Initiative.

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See also:

Madeleine Charney
Selected  Works of Madeleine K. Charney
Research & Liaison Services Librarian, University Libraries at University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Madeleine Charney serves as Liaison Librarian to Sustainability Studies, the Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional Planning, and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. She provides library research support to individuals, classes and the general public. Her areas of interest include food systems, permaculture design, and the preservation of small farms in New England.

And:

 

 

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice
Food-Matters

Madeleine Charney – Subject Research Guides at University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research & Liaison Services Librarian, University Libraries at University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Madeleine Charney serves as Liaison Librarian to Sustainability Studies, the Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional Planning, and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. She provides library research support to individuals, classes and the general public. Her areas of interest include food systems, permaculture design, and the preservation of small farms in New England.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice
Food-Matters

CPAC Bulletin Mailing List Sign Up – CDD – City of Cambridge, Massachusetts

CPAC Bulletin Mailing List – Sign Up

The Community Development Department distributes the monthly CPAC Bulletin with a reminder of the upcoming Climate Protection Action Committee meeting and information about events, news, and resources related to climate protection in Cambridge.

Get the Bulletin

To sign up for the electronic newsletter, email John Bolduc at jbolducor call 617/349-4628.

Recent CPAC Bulletins

2015

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Climate Change Planning – CDD – City of Cambridge, Massachusetts

CambridgeThe City Council adopted the Cambridge Climate Protection Plan in December 2002. Both the state and the city have adopted a goal of 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Per our participation in the Compact of Mayors, the City will begin developing an updated Climate Action Plan in 2016.

The City’s planning around climate change focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When Cambridge began to draft its initial Climate Protection Plan, staff evaluated the relative sizes of the various sources of emissions. The City already had extensive transportation and recycling programs that worked to reduce the community’s generation of greenhouse gases. However, we found that most of our emissions are related to buildings, and we did not have programs to reduce building energy use.

The Climate Protection Plan, therefore, focuses largely on actions around building-related energy. The Cambridge Energy Alliance was one important initiative. Other building energy initiatives target both existing buildings—much of the City’s building stock is relatively old and inefficient—and new construction, with more stringent energy efficiency requirements. And in 2015, the Net Zero Action Plan was adopted to set Cambridge on the trajectory to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment.

(read more).

See also:

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice