Been thinking about Micro.blog, the open web, and social media and wrote about it here.
I have found what may be my favorite YouTube channel ever. Botany delivered by a guy with a thick (Chicago?) accent and a lot of cussing. Really interesting, informative and also, hilarious.
I turned 50 years old on June 5 so I was alive for the moon landing but just 6 weeks old. But in thinking about that accomplishment and the 50 years that have passed, my lifetime thus far, I am struck by two things. First, humans can do amazing things when they work together. Second, humans are often not very good at working together.
It’s often said as common knowledge that humans went to the moon primarily as a result of the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. It was that competition and division that drove each country. In 2019 humans we find ourselves in a similar state of fracture and division. In the U.S. we seem to be caught in a cultural, political and economic war with ourselves. Internationally we can see that humans, divided into political entities called countries, also continue to fight with one another.
On this morning of the anniversary of humans landing on the moon I took a walk with my dogs. It just so happens that the moon, in it’s waning phase, was visible in the western sky. I looked and imagined those men 50 years ago. I imagined looking back at Earth from their perspective on the moon. This fragile planet that we call home. We’re not very good at seeing ourselves as humans. As a species we share a home with one another and with countless other species but we don’t view ourselves as a family or as a community. We still fight with one another based upon our skin color, our language, our beliefs or any possible difference we might have. We seem to be stuck in a way of thinking and being that emphasizes the negatives of diversity rather than celebrate the symphony of the whole that might be possible.
As I think about humans in 2019 I wonder about the next 50 years. Will we continue to fight one another? Are we doomed to struggle in this self-inflicted process? We show amazing promise when we work with one another rather than against one another. We achieve amazing things when we collaborate as allies. We have before us many challenges, difficult problems which we have ourselves created. I’d like to Imagine, as John Lennon did, a world in which humans go beyond the gravity of our past, that force that binds us to conflict and division. What might we achieve as a common community working together rather than against one another. It seems like a beautiful, if distant possibility.
Life is once again headed for total collapse. While coverage of last week’s major Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report on biodiversity loss rightly played up the dire numbers — an estimated 1 million species gone by 2050 — what’s truly remarkable are the solutions the authors offer in response. Ditching the timid pragmatism of technocrats, these scientists are calling for nothing less than the total transformation of the global economy. Producing for profit has failed us, they say, and failed the planet. We need a new system.
Only “transformative change” can stop massive species loss, according to the report’s conclusion. That means overhauling the global economy to prioritize human well-being and environmental sustainability rather than the pursuit of profit. “We’re not addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, which is the way we organize economies, production and consumption patterns, our institutions, and our rules,” says Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers, associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University and a coordinating lead author of the IPBES report. “We need to transform the sheer fabric of our society to become more sustainable.”
Today’s great dying is happening faster than ever before, and its causes are clear: breakneck development, fossil-fueled global warming, industrial pollution, single-crop agriculture. Complex as these processes are, they point to a common culprit: A growth-based economic system bent on wringing cash from nature has exploited the planet’s ecosystems beyond what they can bear. Now, Earth’s fragile life-support system is entering a death spiral that threatens human existence and which no one is prepared to stop.
This. Yes, this says it well.
Alexandra Petri writing for the Washington Post about the recent UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’,
Look, let’s abandon this charade, all right?
I understand: You do not give a ringtailed lemur’s posterior about the majority of life on earth. I fully get it. Believe me, I barely give a carp about it, and some of it is my family. Just — respect me enough to admit it, okay?
For years I have come to you with news that the prairie chicken is not doing so well, and you have furrowed your brow and made concerned sounds. But — the prairie chicken does no better. I am sure you intend to do something about the prairie chicken, but “doing something about the prairie chicken” has slid somewhere on your priorities list below “doing nothing about the prairie chicken” and “forming strong, detailed opinions about the coffee cup that briefly appeared in a single shot of ‘Game of Thrones.’” And that’s fine! I mean, it’s not fine, but it’s between you and your God. Just, admit it, so we can stop wasting time.
I feel like the hardest part of my job right now as a scientist is how you pretend you care about other living beings (apart from dogs and cats, the dunking otter, the new dunking otter, or the occasional octopus who has on account of his exceptional gifts risen from straitened circumstances, pulling himself up by eight bootstraps). To save the rich and glorious tapestry of species that makes life possible on earth, there is nothing you would not do, except alter the way you live in even the slightest bit or be mildly inconvenienced for a very brief time. That is the sense I’m getting? I guess I understand why it is an important element of your self-image that you care about such things, but — look, you are not fooling anyone.
As is often the case I have a tendency to become less regular in my posting here. As I was writing up a description of a recent episode of the Discovery Podcast to share on a slack channel it occurred to me that this is exactly the sort of thing I should post here.
So, this was a fun podcast to listen to… about the perception of the passing of time in different animals. Basically, the perception of time is different based on sensory input, audio and visual, which varies. Flies, bats, and birds are discussed as examples of animals that have a higher frame rate of perception. In a sense, time seems slower for them or at least can be. For bats who can control their frame rate through clicks in the audio-echo based system, time can be slowed down as needed. So, when flying through an open space with little action they can conserve energy with fewer clicks but when hunting an insect they can speed it up from 1 click a second to 200 a second and slow their sense of time for accurate hunting. Kind of like increasing the resolution of what they hear/see as they need to.
Get your copy of the Mueller Report.
It measures 40 billion km across – three million times the size of the Earth – and has been described by scientists as “a monster”.
The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world.
I was reading my news feed this morning and hit upon this article about zero-waste which highlights the efforts of people and businesses to pre-cycle. Which is to say, eliminate trash via the re-use of containers for shopping. Excellent. That’s exactly what we need to be doing. But that’s actually not the point of the post.
Early in the article I hit upon this and it struck a nerve:
In response to these bleak realities, we’re often told that it’s all our fault. Because you didn’t bring your reusable tote bag to Trader Joe’s, that polar bear is now dead. This is a lie, of course — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a damning report that revealed just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global climate emissions, most of them oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP. But it would also be a lie to claim that online shopping isn’t terrible for the environment — in 2016, transportation overtook power plants as the top producer of carbon dioxide emissions in the US, with a quarter of that coming from medium- and heavy-duty delivery trucks.
Are just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global climate emissions? Well, for fuck’s sake, no. One hundred companies might be the source but we are also responsible because those companies are selling their product to us. However you want to break this down, ultimately, the chicken comes home to roost on our porch. We drive. We purchase products that are sourced, manufactured, packaged and shipped to us. Then we throw away the packaging (or try to recycle it). Then we use it and throw it away (or try to recycle it).
Every aspect of our lives is currently based on fossil fuels. So, those 100 companies are no more or less responsible than we are. We’re all a part of this process. Headline and story writers should be more careful of writing text that helps readers absolve themselves of their participation in the cycle.