Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

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How Much is the Earth Worth? Putting a Price Tag on Nature’s Defenses

June 15, 2014

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.

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Read Full Article at the NYTimes

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W.H. Auden and Ecopoetics

November 1, 2013

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

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The New Scientism

December 18, 2012

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

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HISTORY OF A NATURAL

September 27, 2012

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

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Metabolic Tectonic: Terraforming Waste into Our Perpetual City Organism

July 30, 2012

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

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Urbanization Is Not the Problem (Dealing With It Is)

July 30, 2012

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

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Nature, Science, and Religion: Intersections Shaping Society and the Environment

June 29, 2012

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