Monday, January 23, 2012

Eco-terrorism and terrorist-journalism

Course of events:
    a) Animal rights activists are raided by police
    b) Journalist cover the case

Can you guess what's next? Probably not...
    c) Journalist is labelled 'extremist' and persecuted

Can you guess the country? No, not the glorious nation of Kazakhstan. The USA. Get the facts straight for yourself:

Check out Green is the new red blog and/or book which is about the campaign against 'eco-terrorism', apparently a string of creative use of new anti-terror laws to subjugate environmentalist views. I for one subscribed to Will Potter right away!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Abusing animals for fun & covering up pollution - busy day in the US Army

Huffington Post / Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Cover-Up Hinted In Navy Letter
The U.S. Navy is asking government investigators to suppress information concerning the toxic water scandal at the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune, according to a letter obtained Thursday by The Huffington Post. [...] Government watchdogs and environmental advocates said they interpret the letter as further evidence of a Navy effort to evade culpability for what many call the worst and largest drinking water contamination in U.S. history. [...] The research is a prerequisite for a series of health studies exploring links between chemical exposures and what appears to be increased levels of disease among former Camp Lejeune residents, including male breast cancer and childhood leukemia.

Huffington Post / Military Misconduct: Sheep-beating Video Surfaces
Last year, a scandalous video emerged of a U.S. marine throwing a puppy off a cliff. Now there is this video of a soldier repeatedly beating a sheep with a baseball bat to the whoops and laughter of other soldiers who are looking on.
Warning: Watching this video is unpleasant.
Military psychologists and psychiatrists are aware, as are all psychologists and psychiatrists, that gratuitous cruelty to animals, especially when it gives pleasure to the perpetrator, is an indicator of other anti-social problems that need to be taken most seriously. Juveniles who decapitate neighborhood cats or hang the family dog from a tree are almost guaranteed to go on to other violent crimes if they are not stopped and dealt with. All the "school shooters" have a history of cruelty to animals, as does every known serial killer from Son of Sam to Jeffrey Dahmer.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Watch DIRT! The Movie

I just watched DIRT! The Movie for free at dotSUB. A really good movie about soil and the importance of a healthy biosphere of rich biodiversity. Takes a couple of detours (ie one about various spiritual connections to soil) that may seem weird depending on who you are and is quite a bit pro-organic agriculture but all in all a good, educational movie about not just soil, but about deforestation, climate change, agriculture - and a bit about conflict too!


Full movie:

"You create deserts where you are and eventually these micro deserts form much bigger areas. And we can't live very happily in a desert. And so we start fighting between farming communities and nomadic communities over land that is not a desert, that still has dirt. Desertification or land degradation is one good way of undermining security in any country."
- Wangari Maathai [0:29]
"There is a very strong correlation between human degradation and environmental degradation."
 - Sebastiao Salgado, photographer [0:42]

Although I just watched it, I could certainly use having the full quality DVD on my shelf along with HOME, FUEL, FOOD Inc, CRUDE and the other (upper case letter) enviro-flicks.

Pierre Rhabi holds dirt

Find DIRT! The Movie: at their own website, at YouTube, at Facebook, at Twitter and at IMDb.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Musings on optimism vs fear, innovation vs collapse

Today I happened upon this near one hour long couch talk by Geoffrey West (visit the site for audio or video). Among the themes he discuss is drawing some lines in the sand in the very long debate between Malthusian fears of over-population / over-exploitation of nature and the technological optimism that future inventions will solve anything and everything.
"One of the bad things about open-ended growth, growing faster than exponentially, is that open-ended growth eventually leads to collapse. It leads to collapse mathematically because of something called finite times singularity. You hit something that's called a singularity, which is a technical term, and it turns out as you approach this singularity, the system, if it reaches it, will collapse. You have to avoid that singularity in order to stop collapsing. It's great on the one hand that you have this open ended growth. But if you kept going, of course, it doesn't make any sense. Eventually, you run out of resources anyway, but you would collapse. [...] There's a theorem you can prove that says that if you demand continuous open growth, you have to have continuous cycles of innovation. Well, that's what people believe, and it's the way people have suggested that’s how you get out of the Malthusian paradox. This all agrees within itself but there is a huge catch. [...] The question then is, is this sustainable? The system will collapse, because eventually you would have to be making a major innovation, like you know, IT every six months. Well, that's completely crazy."
Geoffrey West is using mathematics and physics to propose very general laws that apply across the natural world; in plants, animals, people and even societies. Extend his work a bit and... do you get formulas that predict breaking points where susceptibility to violence and conflict gets critical?

It reminds me of a very short chapter in my book, The physics: Energy budget of resource exploitation, pages 92-93. Mostly because I remember pausing to wonder if I could research this sub-topic even deeper.
"will near future solutions turn into distant future battlefields? Will we learn from mistakes of our past?"
- Ecowar - Natural Resources and Conflict, p. 93
What I also write about is natural resources (and factors that influence natural resources) not being enough to cause wars by itself. Quite unrelated I happened to read two articles while on the train today: an interview with Umberto Eco and an article about Curzio Malaparte's book Kaputt. Both refer (directly and indirectly) to fears inspired by conspiracy theories as co-causes or even preconditions for atrocities and war. This makes sense and is something I have come to understand certain conflict authorities are quite focused on. To distance myself from an impression I am afraid to give that I am obsessed with all wars being caused by natural resource scarcity, here is a quote from the introduction of my book:

"this is not about trying to prove the dominant role of any single root cause to all human conflict. This is not about eliminating any particular factor as a cause for conflict. This is simply about looking at many different natural resources in many different conflicts. Trying to measure their impact."
- Ecowar - Natural Resources and Conflict, p 10

I guess I'll have to take a closer look at Geoffrey West's research. For the time being, I take comfort in hearing such an intellectual authority talking along some of the same lines I have been thinking in. Needless to say: I'd love to hear your criticism of the "theory" presented in both my book and here at my blog!

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