Daily Archives: June 8, 2016

Boston to host major climate summit in 2017 – The Boston Globe

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Secretary of State John F. Kerry were both present in Beijing for the announcement of the 2017 summit. They were joined by US Ambassador to China Max Baucus (second from left) and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. By Andrew Ryan Globe Staff June 07, 2016

BEIJING — A major climate summit will come to Boston in 2017, putting the city on the world stage as urban leaders from the United States and China work to curb the effects of a warming planet.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry made the announcement Tuesday at this year’s conference in the hazy Chinese capital, declaring that cities like Boston were “in the eye of the climate change storm.

”Kerry’s speech served as a capstone to a climate summit that brought together mayors and other urban leaders from more than 60 cities in the United States and China. The Boston conference in 2017 will be the third such gathering; the first two were hosted by Los Angeles and Beijing.

(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Killing the Colorado – ProPublica

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, June 16, 2015

Series on the Colorado River including…

The river that sustains 40 million Americans is dying — and man, not nature, is to blame.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Ecological consequences of human niche construction: Examining long-term anthropogenic shaping of global species distributions

Abstract

The exhibition of increasingly intensive and complex niche construction behaviors through time is a key feature of human evolution, culminating in the advanced capacity for ecosystem engineering exhibited by Homo sapiens. A crucial outcome of such behaviors has been the dramatic reshaping of the global biosphere, a transformation whose early origins are increasingly apparent from cumulative archaeological and paleoecological datasets. Such data suggest that, by the Late Pleistocene, humans had begun to engage in activities that have led to alterations in the distributions of a vast array of species across most, if not all, taxonomic groups.

Changes to biodiversity have included extinctions, extirpations, and shifts in species composition, diversity, and community structure. We outline key examples of these changes, highlighting findings from the study of new datasets, like ancient DNA (aDNA), stable isotopes, and microfossils, as well as the application of new statistical and computational methods to datasets that have accumulated significantly in recent decades.

We focus on four major phases that witnessed broad anthropogenic alterations to biodiversity—the Late Pleistocene global human expansion, the Neolithic spread of agriculture, the era of island colonization, and the emergence of early urbanized societies and commercial networks. Archaeological evidence documents millennia of anthropogenic transformations that have created novel ecosystems around the world. This record has implications for ecological and evolutionary research, conservation strategies, and the maintenance of ecosystem services, pointing to a significant need for broader cross-disciplinary engagement between archaeology and the biological and environmental sciences.

(read more).

See:

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

The da Vinci puzzle: Restoring The Last Supper – BBC News

8 June 2016 Last updated at 00:07 BST

In the spring of 1999 a small team of experts, led by the renowned Italian art restorer Pinin Brambilla, concluded the mammoth task of restoring Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper.

Da Vinci had been commissioned to paint the fresco on a wall in Milan’s convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in 1498. But due to his poor choice of materials, paint had begun to flake off even during his lifetime.

Brambilla’s restoration involved removing five layers of paint from previous botched restorations and restoring key features and objects. The painstaking job of cleaning, dabbing and repainting the four-and-a-half metre high fresco cost millions of dollars and took Pinin and her colleagues more than 20 years.

Now in her 90s, Pinin Brambilla, who still works in her studio in Milan, told Witness about this labour of love that consumed half of her professional life.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Johan Rockström: Bounding the Planetary Future: Why We Need a Great Transition

Essay: Bounding the Planetary Future: Why We Need a Great Transition

Johan Rockström, April 2015

We confront an existential risk without historic precedent: human environmental pressures have reached such a pace and intensity that they may cross tipping points, irreversibly altering the state of the Earth system. As the human enterprise becomes more encompassing and interdependent, the prospect of achieving human well-being within the dominant development paradigm grows dim. However, an alternative sustainable development paradigm that pursues social, environmental, and economic goals separately would likewise prove inadequate. Instead, we need an integrated perspective to calibrate the operation of the human system so that it remains within safe parameters for a stable Earth system. The planetary boundary framework contributes to this new paradigm by delineating a safe operating space, in terms of the degree of human perturbation of environmental processes, consistent with maintaining the planet’s stability. The urgency of the challenges ahead demands a two-prong strategy: acting within our current obsolete development framework to bend environmental and social justice curves as much as possible, while simultaneously fostering the longer-term shift in consciousness to values and institutions that equitably integrate people and planet.

….or see:

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Fueling Value Change

Review: Fueling Value Change
Brent Ranall, February 2016

Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels
Ian Morris
Princeton University Press, 2015

In Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels, Ian Morris argues that over the course of human history, changes in energy capture have driven changes in human values. He distinguishes three broad stages of societal development, correlating with three major modes of energy capture: foraging, farming, and use of fossil fuels. As societies capture more energy per capita, Morris argues, they become progressively less tolerant of interpersonal violence. And tolerance of various forms of hierarchy (economic, political, gender) tends, in varying degrees, to increase as foraging gives way to farming and then to decline in a fossil fuel regime. To explain these changes, he offers a theory of social evolution, positing that certain values make the societies that embrace them “fitter” than others and more likely to survive and prosper in each of the three energy regimes.

…or see:

Food-Matters
Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Nature’s Way: A Path to Ecological Agriculture

Interview: Nature’s Way: A Path to Ecological Agriculture
Wes Jackson, April 2016

Modern industrial-scale agriculture has proven incompatible with the structure and function of natural systems. To reverse the abusive practices that are undermining the long-term health of the land, humans, and non-human species, a new agricultural paradigm that mimics rather than contradicts ecological principles is urgently needed. Allen White, Senior Fellow at Tellus Institute, explores the nature and prospects of such a paradigm shift with Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute and a leader in advancing research in and public understanding of ecological agriculture.

For almost four decades, you have been a leading proponent of transforming the dominant agricultural system based on annual monoculture to one based on ecological principles. What inspired your belief in the need for this fundamental change?

…(read more)

or see:

Food-Matters
Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice