from The New Yorker, May 5, 2016
Credit Photograph by Jason Franson / The Canadian Press / AP
The town of Fort McMurray, some four hundred miles north of Calgary, in Canada, grew up very quickly on both sides of the Athabasca River. During the nineteen-seventies, the population of the town tripled, and since then it has nearly tripled again. All this growth has been fuelled by a single activity: extracting oil from a Florida-sized formation known as the tar sands. When the price of oil was high, there was so much currency coursing through Fort McMurray’s check-cashing joints that the town was dubbed “Fort McMoney.”
Now Fort McMurray is burning. A forest fire that began to the southwest of the town on Sunday has forced the entire population—almost ninety thousand people—to evacuate. On Wednesday, Alberta’s provincial government declared a state of emergency. By yesterday, more than fifteen hundred buildings had been destroyed and the blaze had spread through an area covering more than three hundred square miles. It was burning so hot that that it was easily able to jump major rivers. One Canadian official described the fire as “catastrophic.” Another called it a “multi-headed monster.”
Continue reading here.
More images at CNN here.
EC now following Jeff VanderMeer’s The Southern Reach. This excerpt is from “Eco Watch: Robin Wall Kimmerer in Sun Magazine on ‘Two Ways of Knowing.’” (More from and about VanderMeer soon.)
The Sun Magazine recently published a fascinating interview with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, who fuses her formal science background with knowledge from her background as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Kimmerer is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. She also serves as the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
I encourage you to read the entire interview, which speaks to a holistic and more complex view of ecosystems and the environment–and one that’s useful in thinking about how we combat global warming and biosphere degradation but also in how we re-imagine our relationship to the Earth in a more meaningful and positive way.
It’s useful, too, in pushing back against the frequent fetishizing or simplification of the cultures of various Native American and First Nation peoples–first by thinking of these diverse and varied cultures reductively as one culture and second by thinking of their views of the environment as being only “mystical” and not practical. I’d also argue that within the realm of “traditional” science, Kimmerer’s comments point to a vital fact: while specialization in science is important it can also be extremely limiting.
Continue reading here.
by Liam Heneghan
By my quick calculation the population of Dublin city and its surrounding county, cannot be ecologically accommodated by the entire land mass of Ireland. Dublin spills over the borders of the country in which it is located.
This is how I arrived at this conclusion. The population of Dublin city and county combined is 1.273 million (1). According to footprint.org the average ecological footprint of an Irish person is 5.61 global hectares (22nd highest in the world) (2). An ecological footprint is a measure of the amount of land people live on and that is required to both furnish the resources needed for consumption and to absorb waste. The units used in footprint analysis (global hectares) is a measure of biologically productive hectare required to sustain people. Thus the total footprint of Dublin is 7.24 million hectares (population x average footprint). Since the total land mass of Ireland is only 7.03 hectares there is an overshoot of the population of Dublin beyond the borders on the country to which it belongs. The overshoot is at present about three percent. Dublin, it seems, needs to slim down a bit, perhaps quite a bit.
Keep reading here.
. . . brought to you by Environmental Critique via Synthetic Zero and Alien Ecologies. (Pull back plastic wrap at a corner to vent and microwave on high for 10 minutes.)
David Roden just posted a new essay Accelerationism and Posthumanism II.In it he addresses the Leftwing Accelerationist’s like Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams among others. A couple points he raised:
First, “that technology has no essence and no itinerary” (i.e., no autonomous structure or stable nature, nor a teleological or final goal toward which it is moving.) As he explicates it:
In its modern form at least, it is counter-final. It is not in control, but it is not in anyone’s control either, and the developments that appear to make a techno-insurgency conceivable are liable to ramp up its counter-finality. This, note, is a structural feature deriving from the increasing mobility of technique in modernity, not from market conditions. There is no reason to think that these issues would not be confronted by a more just world in which resources were better directed to identifiable social goods (See Roden 2014…
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