Daily Archives: January 15, 2020

Erosion of Californian cliffs is causing homes to crumble away

FRANCE 24 English

Published on Jan 15, 2020

Thousands of people residing on the cliff edges in southern California have been told leave their homes as the ground underneath is giving way, but some say they want to stay. James Vasina has the latest from Pacifica.

Hominid Exceptionalism and the Intrinsic Limit of Human Power in Earth’s Ecosystem


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In an outstanding piece of political analysis Professor Andrew Bacevich has drawn attention to the limits of power and the fatal — yet still persistent — illusion of “American exceptionalism.” His trenchant analysis stops short, however, of a critique of the larger arrogance at the root of American exceptionalism and that is:  “hominid exceptionalism.”

Humans, through the myths they tell themselves and their leaders like to repeat, have come to believe that they are “exceptions” to the laws of nature.  This is not so, in fact, simply because it cannot be so.  We have evolved over time within Earth’s ecosystem, and in the long run we are governed by its constraints.  In biological terms we are a late-arriving, bi-pedal, mammalian omnivore with an extraordinarily inflated sense of self-importance.  We do not and, in fact, cannot photosynthesize.  Therefore we are totally dependent upon other species that do.  No population in any ecosystem can ever outlast its food supply, and humans will be no exception to this sobering scientific fact.

Simple scientific truths like this are taught and learned by children in every elementary school across the world.  Yet adults — and particularly political and religious leaders — tend to ignore these truths, choosing instead to evoke narratives of “choseness” or other forms of exceptionalism to assure their listeners of the virtues of continuous growth on a finite planet.

The problem is that the pattern continuous human growth based on the myth of hominid exceptionalism cannot endure and will not persist for very much longer in Earth’s finite ecosystem.  As the animated graph illustrates — depicting the human predicament from roughly 1900 onward —  humans are currently at what many scientists call a “peak-moment” concerning the extraction of fossil fuels (peak oil), the continuation of human population growth and concomitant growth of planetary warming. [For additional discussion of the “peak moment” concept see: http://wp.me/p2iDSG-aPw]

We need quickly to learn to live within the limits of hominid power in a sustainable ecosystem or we risk driving ourselves into extinction — the ultimate dismissal from the ongoing community of Earth’s life forms.

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Live: US House votes to send Trump impeachment articles to Senate

FRANCE 24 English

Published on Jan 15, 2020

Democrats in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday unveiled a seven-member team to prosecute President Donald Trump, and are to vote hours later to send his impeachment articles to the Senate, where his trial will be headed by Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor who has become a nemesis of the Republican president

Climate change: Last decade confirmed as warmest on record – BBC News


Image copyright Getty Images

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent

15 Jan 2020

The 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record by three global agencies.

According to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, last year was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850.

The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with the average of each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial.

The Met Office says that 2020 is likely to continue this warming trend.

2016 remains the warmest year on record, when temperatures were boosted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Today’s data doesn’t come as a huge surprise, with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) signalling at the start of last December that 2019 likely marked the end of the warmest decade on record.

The Met Office, which is involved in producing the HadCRUT4 temperature data, says that 2019 was 1.05C above the average for the period from 1850-1900.

Last year saw two major heat waves hit Europe in June and July, with a new national record of 46C set in France on 28 June. New records were also set in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and in the UK at 38.7C.

…(read more).

Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America: Alexander Laban Hinton, Andrew Woolford, Jeff Benvenuto


This important collection of essays expands the geographic, demographic, and analytic scope of the term genocide to encompass the effects of colonialism and settler colonialism in North America. Colonists made multiple and interconnected attempts to destroy Indigenous peoples as groups. The contributors examine these efforts through the lens of genocide. Considering some of the most destructive aspects of the colonization and subsequent settlement of North America, several essays address Indigenous boarding school systems imposed by both the Canadian and U.S. governments in attempts to “civilize” or “assimilate” Indigenous children. Contributors examine some of the most egregious assaults on Indigenous peoples and the natural environment, including massacres, land appropriation, the spread of disease, the near-extinction of the buffalo, and forced political restructuring of Indigenous communities. Assessing the record of these appalling events, the contributors maintain that North Americans must reckon with colonial and settler colonial attempts to annihilate Indigenous peoples.

Contributors. Jeff Benvenuto, Robbie Ethridge, Theodore Fontaine, Joseph P. Gone, Alexander Laban Hinton, Tasha Hubbard, Margaret D. Jabobs, Kiera L. Ladner, Tricia E. Logan, David B. MacDonald, Benjamin Madley, Jeremy Patzer, Julia Peristerakis, Christopher Powell, Colin Samson, Gray H. Whaley, Andrew Woolford

Savagism and Civilization: Professor Roy Harvey Pearce


First published in 1953, revised in 1964, and presented here with a new foreword by Arnold Krupat and new postscript by the author, Roy Harvey Pearce’s Savagism and Civilization is a classic in the genre of history of ideas. Examining the political pamphlets, missionaries’ reports, anthropologists’ accounts, and the drama, poetry, and novels of the 18th and early 19th centuries, Professor Pearce traces the conflict between the idea of the noble savage and the will to Christianize the heathen and appropriate their land, which ended with the near extermination of Native American culture.


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