A group led by Dr. Robert Costanza has calculated the value of the world’s ecosystems…the group’s most recent estimate puts the yearly value at $142.7 trillion.
“I think this is a very important piece of science,” said Douglas J. McCauley of the University of California, Santa Barbara. That’s particularly high praise coming from Dr. McCauley, who has been a scathing critic of Dr. Costanza’s attempt to put price tags on ecosystem services.
“This paper reads to me like an annual financial report for Planet Earth,” Dr. McCauley said. “We learn whether the dollar value of Earth’s major assets have gone up or down.”
The group last calculated this value back in 1997 and it rose sharply over the past 17 years, even as those natural habitats are disappearing. Dr. Costanza and his colleagues estimate that the world’s reefs shrank from 240,000 square miles in 1997 to 108,000 in 2011.
Read Full Article at the NYTimes
W.H. Auden is a Greek poet, at least when it comes to nature. No, I don’t mean that he is all about olive trees and white sand beaches: I mean there is something fundamentally classical in his attitude toward the natural world, something that puts him at odds with the two dominant modes of nature poetry of our time—something that, indeed, casts light on the outlines of those norms.
The two most common attitudes toward non-human nature in contemporary poetry are the Romantic (or sentimental—if we can use that word without condescension) and the ecopoetic. The first of these dates back more than two centuries, and receives its most powerful theoretical articulation in Friedrich Schiller’s great essay of 1795, “On Simple and Sentimental Poetry.” Here, Schiller begins by describing the longing for the realm of nature among self-conscious and sophisticated people:
There are moments in our life, when we dedicate a kind of love and touching respect to nature in its plants, minerals, animals, landscapes . . . not because it is pleasing to our senses, not even because it satisfies our understanding or taste . . . but rather merely because it is nature. Every fine man, who does not altogether lack feeling, experiences this, when he walks in the open, when he lives upon the land . . . in short, when he is surprised in artificial relations and situations with the sight of simple nature.
Excerpt from a text written by Robert Archambeau at the Boston Review. Continue THERE
In contrast to reason, a defining characteristic of superstition is the stubborn insistence that something — a fetish, an amulet, a pack of Tarot cards — has powers which no evidence supports. From this perspective, scientism appears to have as much in common with superstition as it does with properly conducted scientific research. Scientism claims that science has already resolved questions that are inherently beyond its ability to answer.
Of all the fads and foibles in the long history of human credulity, scientism in all its varied guises — from fanciful cosmology to evolutionary epistemology and ethics — seems among the more dangerous, both because it pretends to be something very different from what it really is and because it has been accorded widespread and uncritical adherence. Continued insistence on the universal competence of science will serve only to undermine the credibility of science as a whole. The ultimate outcome will be an increase of radical skepticism that questions the ability of science to address even the questions legitimately within its sphere of competence. One longs for a new Enlightenment to puncture the pretensions of this latest superstition.
Excerpt from an essay written by Austin L. Hughes at The New Atlantis. Continue HERE
When David Attenborough joined the BBC, 60 years ago this September, Britain had only one television channel. Cameras had to be wound up like a clock and could only film live or in 20-second bursts. There was no way to capture sound and vision at the same time, or to broadcast from anywhere but the studio. Attenborough, like most people, did not own a television set; he thinks he had seen only one programme in his life. He had applied for a job in radio, as a talks producer, and been turned down, and it was only by chance that his CV was seen by a television executive, the head of factual broadcasting, Mary Adams. She gave him a chance—but when he first went in front of the camera, she said his teeth were too big.
By 1956, Attenborough had persuaded the BBC to let him try a new way of filming—from and of the natural world. With only a cameraman and animal expert for company, he would go off for months to remote lands in search of rare beasts. In Borneo, some days’ walk from civilisation, he was on the trail of orangutan when he spied a man paddling up the river, wearing only a sarong and bearing a message tucked in a cleft stick. It was from the BBC, giving instructions on how to use their new toy: colour film. What started in a makeshift fashion with “Zoo Quest” matured over the decades into “Life on Earth”, “The Private Life of Plants”, “Life in Cold Blood”, “Frozen Planet” and many more. With Attenborough, the phenomenon of natural-history film-making was born.
Excerpt from an article written by Samantha Weinberg at Intelligent Life. Continue HERE
By dismissing ubiquitous notions of idyllic nature, we are free to reconsider the authenticity of our waste, and how the ‘ugly’ might be re-purposed using biological [synthetic or otherwise] processes to terraform our waste into a monumental landscape machine that serves as a perpetual function of the city.
Excerpt from a Masters Thesis by Adam E. Anderson. See ++ HERE
While the rest of the world is urbanizing, Latin America is urbanized. The region has four of the world’s 19 megacities (cities with populations over 10 million people) and 78% of all its people currently live in urban areas. Latin America’s concerns over urbanization, therefore, are based on the substantial amount of people currently in cities as opposed to the anticipation of populations to come. For example, of the one billion increase cities will experience by 2025, the United Nations estimates Latin America will only add about 127 million to its population. This is not insignificant for sure, but the slower rate of urbanization does change the nature in which urban planning occurs.
Excerpt of an article by Vanessa Leon, at Urban Times. Continue HERE
This book is about the complicated and provocative ways nature, science, and religion intersect in real settings where people attempt to live in harmony with the physical environment. Scholars of philosophy, religious studies, and science and technology have been at the forefront of critiquing the roles of religion and science in human interactions with the natural world. Meanwhile, researchers in the environmental sciences have encountered disciplinary barriers to examining the possibility that religious beliefs influence social–ecological behaviors and processes simply because the issue resists quantitative assessment. The contributors to this book explore how scientific knowledge and spiritual beliefs are engaged to shape natural resource management, environmental activism, and political processes.
Table of Contents
1.) Intersections of Nature, Science, and Religion: An Introduction / Catherine M. Tucker and Adrian J. Ivakhiv
2.)Suffering, Service, and Justice: Matters of Faith and How Faith Matters to the Environmental Movement in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest / Colleen M. Scanlan Lyons
3.)On Enchanting Science and Disenchanting Nature: Spiritual Warfare in North America and Papua New Guinea / Joel Robbins
4.)Technologies of the Real: Science, Religion, and State Making in Mexican Forests / Andrew S. Mathews
5.)Surviving Conservation: La Madre Tierra and Indigenous Moral Ecologies in Oaxaca, Mexico / Kristin Norget
6.)Syncretism and Conservation: Examining Indigenous Beliefs and Natural Resource Management in Honduras / Catherine M. Tucker
7.)Do You Understand? Discovering the Power of Religion for Conservation in Guatemalan Mayan Communities / Anne Motley Hallum
8.)Believing Is Seeing: A Religious Perspective on Mountaineering in the Japanese Alps / Scott Schnell
9.)The Productivity of Nonreligious Faith: Openness, Pessimism, and Water in Latin America / Andrea Ballestero
10.)Zimbabwe’s Earthkeepers: When Green Warriors Enter the Valley of Shadows / Marthinus L. Daneel
11.)Religious (Re-)Turns in the Wake of Global Nature: Toward a Cosmopolitics / Adrian J. Ivakhiv
Text and Image via:
Nature, Science, and Religion
Intersections Shaping Society and the Environment
Edited by Catherine M. Tucker
The Center for PostNatural History is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge relating to the complex interplay between culture, nature and biotechnology. The PostNatural refers to living organisms that have been altered through processes such as selective breeding or genetic engineering. The mission of the Center for PostNatural History is to acquire, interpret and provide access to a collection of living, preserved and documented organisms of postnatural origin.
The Center for PostNatural History addresses this goal through three primary initiatives:
The maintenance of a unique catalog of living, preserved and documented specimens of postnatural origin.
The production of traveling exhibitions that address the PostNatural through thematic and regional perspectives.
The establishment of a permanent exhibition and research facility for PostNatural studies.
Text via The Center for PostNatural History
Human beings are diverse and live in diverse ways. Should we accept that we are diverse by nature, having followed separate evolutionary paths? Or should we suppose that we share our biological inheritance, but develop differently according to environment and culture? Over recent years scientific research has reshaped this familiar “nature-nurture” debate, which remains central to our understanding of human nature and morality.
For much of the 20th century social scientists held that human life is a single biological phenomenon, which flows through the channels made by culture, so as to acquire separate and often mutually inaccessible forms. Each society passes on the culture that defines it, much as it passes on its language. And the most important aspects of culture—religion, rites of passage and law—both unify the people who adhere to them and divide those people from everyone else. Such was implied by what John Tooby and Leda Cosmides called the “standard social science model,” made fundamental to anthropology by Franz Boas and to sociology by Émile Durkheim.
More recently evolutionary psychologists have begun to question that approach. Although you can explain the culture of a tribe as an inherited possession, they suggested, this does not explain how culture came to be in the first place. What is it that endows culture with its stability and function? In response to that question the opinion began to grow that culture does not provide the ultimate explanation of any significant human trait, not even the trait of cultural diversity. It is not simply that there are extraordinary constants among cultures: gender roles, incest taboos, festivals, warfare, religious beliefs, moral scruples, aesthetic interests. Culture is also a part of human nature: it is our way of being. We do not live in herds or packs; our hierarchies are not based merely on strength or sexual dominance. We relate to one another through language, morality and law; we sing, dance and worship together, and spend as much time in festivals and storytelling as in seeking our food. Our hierarchies involve offices, responsibilities, gift-giving and ceremonial recognition. Our meals are shared, and food for us is not merely nourishment but an occasion for hospitality, affection and dressing up. All these things are comprehended in the idea of culture—and culture, so understood, is observed in all and only human communities. Why is this?
Excerpt of an essay by Roger Scruton at Prospect. Continue HERE