Daily Archives: February 12, 2021

New Empires Rise & Fall | Mankind: The Story of All of Us (S1, E8) | Full Episode | History

Published on Feb 12, 2021

Join us as we explain the wildest, weirdest, most shocking moments of all time in History Countdown – https://histv.co/countdown

In the Andes, the Spanish open up the largest silver mine in the world and mint millions of pesos de ocho (pieces of eight). These coins transform the global economy. They fill the treasure chests of pirates, in Season 1, Episode 8, “Treasure.”

Misplaced Metaphors in the Anthropocene (Beware of Cultural Clichés & Dangerous Metaphors) | Tim Weiskel


Online text of article:

GTI ForumContribution to GTI Forum
Interrogating the Anthropocene: Truth and Fallacy

Tim Weiskel   February 2021

[PDF version of text]

Misplaced Metaphors in the Anthropocene

In a short volume published decades ago entitled Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson drew our attention to the fact that most of us, most of the time manage to make our way through life and make sense of the world around us with a relatively limited set of metaphors. As anthropologists have always emphasized, however, it is essential to understand that metaphors are not “instinctual,” but rather “cultural,” phenomena. They are not given to us in our DNA, but rather are learned very early on in life—usually as an aspect of learning the language and other rule-governed norms that we master while growing up in any given culture. So thoroughly are these cultural phenomena absorbed that humans come to regard them as “second nature.”

Because metaphors are so deeply inscribed in our existence, we do not really have control over them at first, any more than we have control, for example, over the “mother tongue” that we learn, or the physical environment that is our first “home.” Later in life, perhaps, we can reflect upon key metaphors that we internalized unconsciously as our eager and absorbent minds encountered life’s complexities, but, just as many people never learn a second language beyond their “mother tongue,” so, too, do many people—perhaps most—learn to transcend the limits of the metaphors that came to govern their consciousness from their youngest years forward.

Herein lies much of our problem as a cultural species in the Anthropocene: we have evolved both as a physical species and a social species in a world whose governing physical parameters change on different time scales than our biophysical equipment as a mammal, on the one hand, or our cultural symbol systems as a social species, on the other. It is the relative “lag” time or differential “acceleration” rates in these three simultaneous registers of our existence as a species (biophysical, genetic, and cultural) that causes the problems we must now confront.

At times it seems, for example, that the physical world in Earth’s ecosystems is so “fixed” in its seas, shores, and mountain ranges that these things clearly outlast the rise and fall of all known human civilizations with their complex but tragically transitory symbol systems. In other cases, however, it seems that whether or not civilizations come or go, humans have remained impressively stable as an interbreeding, bipedal mammalian omnivore for perhaps the last million years or so, enduring and witnessing numerous global changes of climate and sifts in their habitats. On another scale, it seems that symbol systems and metaphors born of commonly shared cultural experiences of an expanding agrarian frontier upon newly discovered fertile land can give rise to “frontier cultures” around the world that share enduring cultural metaphors, independent of language or other divergent, contingent features reflecting their particular historical experience.

It is in this manner that with the “discovery” of the Western Hemisphere by European maritime powers from roughly 1492 onward the cultural metaphors of frontier societies have come to dominate much of the mindset of the modern world. The new energy resources that came under the control of “Western civilization” since 1492—first, in the form of fertile topsoil, then in terms of fossilized carbon reserves (coal, petroleum, natural gas), and eventually in the exploitation of radioactive subatomic particles—gave rise to the illusion in frontier cultures that expansion could be virtually limitless for anything that they proposed to undertake.

…(read more).

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On The Future – Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug

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The third week of April 2005, Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug and his associate Christopher Dowswell visited NC State. During his visit Dr. Borlaug held several seminars with students and faculty from the colleges of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Life Sciences; met with a high school environmental science class at Broughton High School and delivered a public lecture entitled Bridging the Divide between Environment, Agriculture and Forestry. Mr. Dowswell delivered a lecture entitled Meeting the Millennium Development Goal of Cutting Hunger by Half by 2015.

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug

CIMMYT – Apr 3, 2013

CIMMYT fights hunger and poverty in the developing world through smarter agriculture. We are the world’s number one caretaker and developer of maize and wheat, two of humanity’s most vital crops. Maize and wheat are grown on 200 million hectares in developing countries. 84 million of those hectares are planted with varieties of CIMMYT seed. We also maintain the world’s largest maize and wheat seed bank at our headquarters in Mexico. We are probably best known for prompting the Green Revolution, which saved millions of lives across Asia and led to CIMMYT’s Norman Borlaug receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Because of population growth, natural resource degradation, and climate change the current challenge is to feed more people, with less resources, and in a more environmentally responsible way than ever before. It can be done. To learn more about what CIMMYT is doing to combat hunger and poverty visit www.cimmyt.org.

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – AGRA

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – AGRA– Jan 25, 2021

AGRA’s role as an African change-maker is owed to the foundations that triggered a deep-seeded ambition to transform Africa agriculture.

See related videos on AGRA at:

AGRA: What we stand for

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – AGRA– Jan 25, 2021

AGRA’s role as an African change-maker is owed to the foundations that triggered a deep-seeded ambition to transform Africa agriculture.

Regreening the planet | VPRO documentary (2014)

vpro documentary – May 14, 2017

Regreening the planet looks at the profit that comes from the recovery of ecosystems in Spain, Egypt and India. Restoring ecosystems does not only generate ecological profit but also economic. In Regreening the desert, the makers of VPRO Backlight showed that the greening of deserts is very well possible. They followed the American-Chinese cameraman and ecologist John D. Liu.

He filmed how an inhospitable dry mountain area as large as the Netherlands was transformed into a lush green oasis. The greening caused not only ecological recovery but also economic growth of the region. Since then, John D. Liu has traveled the world to inspire people in other countries to follow this example.

Dutch ecologist Willem Ferwerda was inspired by Liu and decided to work together with him. This cooperation has grown into a new organization, Commonland, a foundation with a clear mission: to restore the ecosystems on a large scale worldwide. The point of departure is that restoring landscapes not only yields ecological profits but also money, work and hope for the people living there.

We can see that this works in Egypt: in 1977 Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish SEKEM, experimented to green the desert at Cairo. In 2014, SEKEM has grown to be the leading supplier of ecological products in Egypt and far beyond. Dr. Abouleish has built not only a flourishing business in the desert but a complete community with schools and their own medical and cultural facilities. A better proof that greening and social innovation go hand in hand is almost impossible to find.

That all areas can grow alive, even if they are completely eroded by erosion, also appears from the special story of Indian Jadav “Molai” Payeng. When he was 17, he worked for a replanting project in Assam province. After the project was completed and the other laborers had disappeared, he decided to continue propagating wood by hand. Now, Molai forest is 300 acres and populated by elephants, Bengal tigers, deer, rhino and numerous birds. Payeng is also called The Forest Man in India because he has been able to create a jungle singlehandedly.

That is something that Spain might well use. Large areas in Spain are dry and abandoned due to misused agricultural subsidies, unintentional water and land use and large-scale erosion. The population is turning its back on the countryside and moves to the cities, but there is also unemployment there. In Ayoo de Vidriales, a graying village in the middle of Spain, agricultural engineer Pedro Alonso Fernandez has begun to recover land. He wants to show that the Spanish silted and eroded soils are in fact Green Gold.

Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2014.
© VPRO Backlight Octobre 2014

Why renewables can’t save the planet | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxDanubia

TEDx Talks – Jan 4, 2019

Environmentalists have long promoted renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind farms to save the climate. But what about when those technologies destroy the environment? In this provocative talk, Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment” and energy expert, Michael Shellenberger explains why solar and wind farms require so much land for mining and energy production, and an alternative path to saving both the climate and the natural environment. Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine Hero of the Environment and President of Environmental Progress, a research and policy organization. A lifelong environmentalist, Michael changed his mind about nuclear energy and has helped save enough nuclear reactors to prevent an increase in carbon emissions equivalent to adding more than 10 million cars to the road. He lives in Berkeley, California. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Regreening the desert with John D. Liu | VPRO Documentary | 2012

vpro documentary – May 7, 2017

For more than 15 years, cameraman and ecologist John D. Liu has been working on his worldwide mission to green deserts and to restore biodiversity.

It all started in 1995 when Liu filmed the Loess-plateau in China. He witnessed a local population who turned an area of almost the same size as The Netherlands from a dry, exhausted wasteland into one green oasis. This experience changed his life. From that moment on, Liu has been travelling all over the world to convince and inspire government leaders, policy-makers and farmers with his film material and knowledge. Liu diligently spreads the message that restoration of ecosystems is not only possible, but also economically very meaningful.
Backlight accompanies Liu on his mission in Jordan and shows on the basis of Liu’s own film material that a green future is possible worldwide.

Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2012.
© VPRO Backlight April 2012

Norman Borlaug: A Lifetime Fighting Hunger


Dr. Norman E. Borlaug is credited with saving more lives than any other person who has ever lived. Through his scientific breakthroughs, he developed a strain of wheat that saved upwards of one billion people from famine and starvation. His techniques have been adapted around the globe, and he was honored with the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his achievements. In 1986, Dr. Borlaug founded the World Food Prize to inspire and recognize the similar achievements that are needed to feed our ever-expanding world.

For more on Dr. Borlaug, visit http://www.worldfoodprize.org/borlaug

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