Building the Arte

The environmental historian Donald Worster writes about the fall of the ‘balance of nature’ as an idea, and points out that this disruptive world-view makes nature seem awfully like the human sphere. ‘All history,’ he notes, ‘has become a record of disturbance, and that disturbance comes from both cultural and natural agents.’ Thus he places droughts and pests alongside corporate takeovers and the invasion of the academy by French literary theory. If the idea of a balance resurrects Plato and Aristotle, the non-equilibrium, disturbance-inclined view may have its own Greek hero: Heraclitus, pagan saint of flux. ‘Thunderbolt,’ Heraclitus wrote in Fragment 64, ‘steers all things.’

In its brief history, the science of ecology appears to have smuggled in enough ancient metaphysics to make any Greek philosopher nod with approval. However, the question remains. If the handsaw and hurricane are equivalents in their ability to lay a forest low, it is hard to see how we can scientifically criticise the human destruction of ecosystems. Why should we, for instance, concern ourselves with the fate of the Western Ghats if alien introductions are just another disturbance, no different from the more natural-seeming migration of species? The point of conservation in the popular imagination and in many policy directives is that it resists human depredations to preserve important species in ancient, intact, fully functional natural ecosystems. If we have no ‘balance of nature’, this is much harder to defend.

If we lose the ideal of balance, then, we lose a powerful motive for environmental conservation. However, there might be some unintended benefits. A dynamic, ‘disturbance’ approach has fostered some of the most promising new approaches to environmental problems such as urban ecology and restoration ecology. That’s because it is much less concerned with keeping humans and nature separate from one another.

The thing is, both balance and flux are undoubtedly aspects of nature. A new view of nature that combines them in a way that both scientists and the public find compelling is needed. We should bridge the present disparity between ecology as a science and ecology as a romantic idealism about nature, not only for intellectual reasons but for the sake of robust public policy. Ecology, after all, needs to explain both the stability of a yew grove (a woodland that persists for more than 3,000 years commands attention), as well as the rapid transition of forest in the Western Ghats.

One promising middle path that integrates balance and disturbance has emerged in recent years. Referred to as ‘resilience thinking’, it builds on the work of the Canadian-born ecologist CS Holling and has been developed in recent years by an international collaboration called the Resilience Alliance. Resilience thinking assumes that change and disturbance are an integral part of every system, but that some systems are more resilient to destructive change than others. This might seem a subtle point, but if we understand the processes that promote or restore resilience, we have a much better chance both of mopping up after ecological catastrophes – or of avoiding them altogether.

Resilience thinking can be applied to economics (the capacity of financial markets to absorb shock), friendship (the capacity of our loved ones to tolerate our nonsense), and nature (the capacity of ecosystems to endure disruption). One of the striking findings is that diversity is crucial to success. When an ecological system is managed for just one factor (say, a single crop) or where a nation’s wealth is dominated by a single economic sector (say, the housing market before the 2008 global financial crisis), the result is a loss of resilience. Resilience thinking ultimately theorises about the limits of a system’s capacity to endure. Financial markets collapse, crops fail, love blanches, ecosystems unravel, and death, alas, is a part of every life.

Ecosystems that have been damaged are often damaged irreparably. The cost of restoration projects, we know, is very high, so if we value the diversity of the Western Ghats, we need to prevent this switch from ecological delight to impoverished catastrophe. The idea of resilience provides an ecologically accurate, powerfully intuitive reason for protecting species and habits everywhere, from Ireland to India.

Good management of these ecosystems will require extensive knowledge of those ecological forces (competition, predation, mutualisms and so on) that create the natural patterns we see. Managers also need knowledge of those disturbances — fire, pest, storms — that have historically rejuvenated the forests. What precisely we do with this knowledge calls for ethical judgments of the most practical kind. This is a conversation that involves all of us, scientist and layperson alike.

http://aeon.co/magazine/science/liam-heneghan-balance-of-nature/ (via fuckyeahdarkextropian)

(via coldalbion)

Vesta Image on Flickr.An image I did two-ish years ago of Vesta, the defender of the Roman Flame, seated on a stool by the Roman hearth, while the city surrounds her.

Vesta Image on Flickr.

An image I did two-ish years ago of Vesta, the defender of the Roman Flame, seated on a stool by the Roman hearth, while the city surrounds her.

Things like racism are institutionalized. You might not know any bigots. You feel like “well I don’t hate black people so I’m not a racist,” but you benefit from racism. Just by the merit, the color of your skin. The opportunities that you have, you’re privileged in ways that you might not even realize because you haven’t been deprived of certain things. We need to talk about these things in order for them to change.

Dave Chappelle (via foxynonsense)

This is the Dave Chapelle white people don’t quote.

(via basedempoweredethnicwoman)

White people are the progenitors of racism and the practitioners of racism white people along manipulate the structure on which racism and white culture firmly stands. White people commonly apply racism as a supplement towards promoting a long and successful white life. In closing white people know exactly what they’re doing surviving as a parasite on the backs of the burden barriers of humanity.
How can we persuade active parasites not to engage us as parasites they’re not gonna take that as a logical solution.

(via tygmaker)

(Source: friendlyneighborhoodblackgirl, via igamuinacra-merenptah)

iwriteaboutfeminism:

A Ferguson town hall, held in the Wellspring Church, Thursday night, August 28th. Part 1.

iwriteaboutfeminism:

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles is making no friends at tonight’s Town Hall. Part 2

[part 1]

(via igamuinacra-merenptah)

iwriteaboutfeminism:

Police brutality in Ferguson costs taxpayers millions.

(via lvxoccvltist)

johnthelutheran:

rhube:

jenniferrpovey:

jumpingjacktrash:

becausegoodheroesdeservekidneys:

ultrafacts:

Source For more facts follow Ultrafacts

YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Those are the countries. It will be drought-resistant species, mostly acacias. And this is a fucking brilliant idea you have no idea oh my Christ
This will create so many jobs and regenerate so many communities and aaaaaahhhhhhh

more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Green_Wall
it’s already happening, and already having positive effects. this is wonderful, why have i not heard of this before? i’m so happy!

Oh yes, acacia trees.
They fix nitrogen and improve soil quality.
And, to make things fun, the species they’re using practices “reverse leaf phenology.” The trees go dormant in the rainy season and then grow their leaves again in the dry season. This means you can plant crops under the trees, in that nitrogen-rich soil, and the trees don’t compete for light because they don’t have any leaves on.
And then in the dry season, you harvest the leaves and feed them to your cows.
Crops grown under acacia trees have better yield than those grown without them. Considerably better.
So, this isn’t just about stopping the advancement of the Sahara - it’s also about improving food security for the entire sub-Saharan belt and possibly reclaiming some of the desert as productive land.
Of course, before the “green revolution,” the farmers knew to plant acacia trees - it’s a traditional practice that they were convinced to abandon in favor of “more reliable” artificial fertilizers (that caused soil degradation, soil erosion, etc).
This is why you listen to the people who, you know, have lived with and on land for centuries.

Fantastic.

The Great Green Wall, to resist the encroachment of the Sahara. Fascinating.

johnthelutheran:

rhube:

jenniferrpovey:

jumpingjacktrash:

becausegoodheroesdeservekidneys:

ultrafacts:

Source For more facts follow Ultrafacts

YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Those are the countries. It will be drought-resistant species, mostly acacias. And this is a fucking brilliant idea you have no idea oh my Christ

This will create so many jobs and regenerate so many communities and aaaaaahhhhhhh

more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Green_Wall

it’s already happening, and already having positive effects. this is wonderful, why have i not heard of this before? i’m so happy!

Oh yes, acacia trees.

They fix nitrogen and improve soil quality.

And, to make things fun, the species they’re using practices “reverse leaf phenology.” The trees go dormant in the rainy season and then grow their leaves again in the dry season. This means you can plant crops under the trees, in that nitrogen-rich soil, and the trees don’t compete for light because they don’t have any leaves on.

And then in the dry season, you harvest the leaves and feed them to your cows.

Crops grown under acacia trees have better yield than those grown without them. Considerably better.

So, this isn’t just about stopping the advancement of the Sahara - it’s also about improving food security for the entire sub-Saharan belt and possibly reclaiming some of the desert as productive land.

Of course, before the “green revolution,” the farmers knew to plant acacia trees - it’s a traditional practice that they were convinced to abandon in favor of “more reliable” artificial fertilizers (that caused soil degradation, soil erosion, etc).

This is why you listen to the people who, you know, have lived with and on land for centuries.

Fantastic.

The Great Green Wall, to resist the encroachment of the Sahara. Fascinating.

(via tacticalsnake)

I’ve seen Anthony Freda’s image, and Norman Rockwell’s painting on which it was based, fairly frequently recently.  It seemed to me that they belonged together in a single image, to drive home how problematic the current situation is — and how boys are treated to different expectations based on little more than skin color. 
N. Rockwell image of unknown provenance but found in several places on the book of faces. A. Freda image also found on Facebook but credited to Anthony Freda Studio there.

I’ve seen Anthony Freda’s image, and Norman Rockwell’s painting on which it was based, fairly frequently recently.  It seemed to me that they belonged together in a single image, to drive home how problematic the current situation is — and how boys are treated to different expectations based on little more than skin color. 

N. Rockwell image of unknown provenance but found in several places on the book of faces. A. Freda image also found on Facebook but credited to Anthony Freda Studio there.

Daily Show correspondent Michael Che tries to find a safe place to report from.

(Source: sandandglass, via swissshard)

brucesterling:

zerostatereflex:

Four Billion BCE: Battered Earth 

"No place on Earth was safe. Four billion years ago, during the Hadean eon, our Solar System was a dangerous shooting gallery of large and dangerous rocks and ice chunks."

(The gif below shows impacts over time: “Spatial distribution and sizes of craters formed on the early Earth. Each circle indicates the final estimated crater size; color coding indicates time of impact. Credit: Simone Marchi/SwRI.”)

*Ouch

(Source: sservi.nasa.gov)

medievalpoc:

il-tenore-regina:

vivelareine:

—Marie Antoinette (2006)

 Just so everyone is clear, the handsome Black man tutoring Marie Antoinette is Joseph Boulogne, classical musician extraordinaire whose work influenced Mozart’s. This has been your Western music history tidbit of the day. Adieu! 

*just leaves this here*

image

Chevalier Joseph Boulogne de Saint-Georges

(via tacticalsnake)

mapsontheweb:

Old Mexico lives on


The counties with the highest concentration of Mexicans (as defined by ethnicity, rather than citizenship) overlap closely with the area that belonged to Mexico before the great gringo land-grab of 1848. Some are recent arrivals; others trace their roots to long before the map was redrawn. They didn’t jump the border—it jumped them.

mapsontheweb:

Old Mexico lives on

The counties with the highest concentration of Mexicans (as defined by ethnicity, rather than citizenship) overlap closely with the area that belonged to Mexico before the great gringo land-grab of 1848. Some are recent arrivals; others trace their roots to long before the map was redrawn. They didn’t jump the border—it jumped them.

(Source: economist.com, via child-of-the-universe)