Video Map – 2,000 Years of Human Migration 5 Minutes

In the journal Science, the researchers (led by University of Texas at Dallas art historian Maximilian Schich) published a study that looked at the human cultural history of Europe and North America by mapping the birth and deaths of more than 150,000 notable figures—including everyone from Leonardo Da Vinci to Ernest Hemingway. That data was turned into an amazing animated infographic. Blue dots indicate a birth, red ones means death.

Rome’s stronghold on cultural production dissipates around the 12th century and spreads to other European cities like Paris and Berlin. As the mid 20th century rolls around, a boom in the number deaths in Paris, nodding to its iconic art and literature scene in the earlier part of the century. As the years roll by, human modern culture continues to crawl west to New York City and ultimately to Los Angeles, where many a movie star has been born and died.

The researchers used data from Freebase, which touts itself as a “community curated database of people, places and things.” This gives the data a strong western-bent. You’ll notice that many parts of Asia and the Middle East (not to mention pre-colonized North America), are almost wholly ignored in this video. But the abstract did acknowledge that the study was focused mainly on Europe and North America.

Still, mapping the geography of cultural migration does gives some insight about how the kind of valued, dominant culture has shifted over the centuries. It’s also a novel lens through which to view our more general history, as those migration trends likely illuminate bigger historical happenings like wars and the building of cross-country infrastructure. At the end of the video you see Florida blowing up in red. More proof that indeed, the sunshine state is viewed as a nice place to die.

Good Question

 

 

 

 

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret–a Review of a Terrific Video

 

 

COWSPIRACY: THE SUSTAINABILITY SECRET VIDEO HITS A HOME RUN

I recently had the pleasure of viewing new video of Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The basic question these two film makers ask is why the contribution of livestock to ecosystem degradation is missing from the world’s environmental agenda. To find the answer they set out to interview environmental leaders as well as others to see if they could find the answer. The video is well researched and illustrated. But more than that, it is also entertaining. You will enjoy this video.

The first lesson they learned is that no one wants to fund a video about why livestock degradation is ignored. That was a lesson  itself about the cow conspiracy. The duo were not able to find any normal sources of funding, instead they had to rely upon contributions from strangers.  But they persevered and produced what I think is one of the best environmental documentaries done in recent years.  What they show and document in their video is the implicit or in many cases, the explicit omission of livestock production as a major source of global environmental degradation on many fronts including water pollution, deforestation, global warming, species extinction, ocean dead zones, and more.

So, for instance, the duo interview various well known authors and scientists like rancher Howard Lyman, author of Mad Cowboy; Michael Pollen of Omnivore’s Dilemma; Will Tuttle, Environmental and Ethics author, Dr. Greg Lutis, and others who lay out the basic problem—no one wants to talk about the contribution of livestock to global environmental destruction.

This is illustrated over and over again throughout the video where spokespersons for various “green” groups are interviewed and either avoid livestock as a problem or deny/downplay its contribution to environmental woes.

For instance, Bruce Hamilton of the Sierra Club, is interviewed about global climate change. Hamilton correctly identifies fossil fuel burning as one factor contributing to global warming, but when asked about livestock’s contribution to green house gas emissions—Hamilton says “what about it?” At this point, the video discusses many recent scientific papers that point to livestock production as the single largest contributor to Green House Gas production—even exceeding all transportation sectors, yet the Sierra Club, like many other groups, simply does not identify it as a problem.

The duo has similar responses from other organizations. For instance, when interviewing Rainforest Action Network about the causes of rainforest destruction, land clearing for livestock grazing and forage production is barely acknowledged.

Their goal is not to embarrass these individuals or organizations, but rather to illustrate how the contribution of livestock to environmental degradation is too often ignored or omitted from official recognition by nearly everyone.

The movie goes far beyond the obvious impacts of livestock production such as overgrazing of rangelands, and talks about everything from water pollution (from manure) to energy use in the production of meat to the mistreatment of meat-producing animals by humans. Overall it makes a very cogent and articulate argument against meat/dairy consumption.

They even take on Alan Savory, advocate of more livestock production as a means of reducing global warming, pointing out that methane production from domestic animals is one of the largest contributors to warming climate, and vastly exceeds any ability of grazed grassland ecosystems to absorb more carbon.

The video is full of facts illustrated with great graphs (like how many more gallons of water or the amount of land required in the production of a hamburger vs. a veggie burger) that will make it easy to understand why livestock are one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity and ecosystems.

So why is livestock production and its multitude of environmental impacts so ignored by even environmental groups? The conclusion that Andersen and Kuhn come to is that it’s just too risky to discuss.  Many groups depend on contributions from major donors and foundations that do not want livestock production criticized. The rancher and dairy farmer are cultural icons in many parts of the country—you cannot challenge them without risk to your organization’s financial security.

There exists what I call a Bovine Curtain very similar to the Iron Curtain that once prevented outside news from penetrating the old Soviet Union. The Bovine Curtain comes in many forms. Land management agencies like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management seldom critique livestock production as a source of ecosystem degradation because they must answer to western politicians who often are ranchers or otherwise associated with agriculture. Similarly, many universities researchers do not investigate the negative consequences of livestock production and are silenced because they rely upon funding from legislatures dominated by Ag producers. In some states it is even against the law to critique Ag interests—as TV host personality Oprah Winfrey learned in 1998 when she was sued by a  Texas cattleman for allegedly making disparaging remarks about beef. Even though Winfrey ultimately won the suit, she no longer will even discuss the issue so in essence the threat of another law suit has silenced her.

My personal experience confirms Andersen and Kukn’s assertions that there is an unspoken and explicit desire not to discuss livestock as an environmental, ethical, and health issue. For instance, I once worked for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) in Montana. GYC expressly forbade me to discuss livestock production’s contribution to the issues that the organization was highlighting. The organization’s board of directors included many wealthy people who had purchased ranches in the ecosystem and raised cattle. And GYC, like many western based environmental groups wanted to avoid antagonizing regional politicians like county commissioners to governors and Congressional representatives who are frequently ranchers or otherwise connected to Agricultural interests.

For example, when I was asked to discuss the threats to the ecosystem at the organization’s annual board meeting, I was not allowed to mention livestock production even though many of the issues the group was fighting could be traced directly back to ranching as the ultimate source of the environmental problem. Whether it was dewatering of rivers for irrigation and its detrimental impacts on fisheries, to the spread of disease from domestic sheep to wild bighorn sheep, from the killing of bison that wandered from Yellowstone Park to opposition to wolf recovery to the continued policy of elk feedgrounds in Wyoming, the ultimate source of the problem was and is livestock. However, GYC was unwilling to frame the issue that way for fear of antagonizing its board and/or regional politicians.

The cow conspiracy is not only in the West. I lived for a time in Vermont where dairy farming is relegated to the status of a God. For instance though dairy farms are the chief source of pollution of Vermont’s rivers and one of the major contributors to the eutrophication of Lake Champlain, there is virtually no critique of dairy farming in the state. No environmental groups are actively pursuing reduction in dairies despite their well documented environmental impacts, not to mention the health risk associated with consumption of dairy products. Instead dairy products are lauded as “good” in Vermont and supported as “local” agriculture. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream,which was founded in Vermont, is often held up as a responsible corporation even though consumption of ice cream is extremely unhealthy to consume.  And while a few groups discuss the negative consequences of sprawl on the landscape, they virtually ignore the far greater acreage in Vermont that is degraded by corn and/or hay production to feed livestock. Of course dairy farming contributes to many impacts from manure, fertilizer and pesticide run off into streams, GMO seeds, to the mono cropping  that destroys native biodiversity. Even Bill McKibben’s 350.org, a group based in Vermont and dedicated to reducing global warming, fails to mention the contribution that livestock production makes to global climate change.

The truth is that there are very few environmental organizations that are willing to even discuss livestock production’s impact on biodiversity and ecosystem function, much less other related issues like human health and ethical treatment of animals.

Hopefully after viewing Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret you be will motivated to start questioning politicians, environmental organizations and others why they are ignoring what is ultimately one of the major contributors to global climate change and biodiversity losses.

You can find out more about the movie at this link– cowspiracy.com. Watch the trailer. Get a copy of the video and show it widely. Arrange for a showing at conferences, in your college classes, at your church, and any other forum.  Better yet support Kip and Keegan’s efforts by making a contribution to them and joining one of the few organizations that are directly addressing livestock impacts on public lands like the Idaho based Western Watersheds Project. Other groups frequently challenging the livestock juggernaut include Predator Defense, Center for Biological Diverstiy, Wildearth Guardians, and the Alliance for Wild Rockies.

Author’s Bio: George Wuerthner is an ecologist, author of 37 books dealing with wildlands and environmental issues including Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West. He is also a board member of Western Watershed Project.

good question

finney farm

http://www.finneyfarm.org/

 

Finney Farm began in 1989 by a group of six activists who knew each other through their work in groups like EarthFirst! and publications like Live Wild or Die. They sought to live closer to their ideals, and found a 65 homestead in the Upper Skagit.  Originally a blueberry and ginseng farm and later a Girl Scout camp, the land was overgrown and had been abandoned for some years.  The original group formed a non-profit land trust to maintain the ownership of the property, and purchased an adjacent 40 acres of raw land in the early 90s.

 

Most of the original members were drawn to different endeavors within the first few years, and all eventually moved on.   Two of our current members became acquainted with the farm in 1995, and had made it their home in the late 90s.  At that time, the farm was a few different looking place—many unfinished projects, overgrown orchards, a teeny garden plot, and blackberries everywhere!   For years the main goal was to recover ground/buildings and bring the landscape back to a manageable state.  After much work, some years, and the help of many residents and visitors who came and went…the land was much improved and we felt that we could finally devote some energy to starting new projects and endeavors which have included a half acre forest garden, expansive gardens including nearly 2 acres in annual food production and 2 acres in perennials/orchards, two large commercial greenhouses, riparian planting, cabins (timber frame, recycled materials), barn addition, and much more-using a plan that we have devised with permaculture and community ideals.

As anarchists, we favor  a social system based on voluntary cooperation and have chosen to use consensus as our decision making process.  We have a cohesive set of bylaws and policies which reflect the needs of the community.  We also have a comprehensive plan of action including social and educational outreach programs, physical infrastructure, and more.

Cascadia Rainingman

Cascadia Rainingman

August 29th – September 1st

Our first ever Cascadia Rainingman is happening August 29th – September 1st at Finney Farm near Concrete, WA. Presentations, skillshares, workshops, discussions and debriefs during the day, with art happening throughout the weekend, and live music each night. 

Saturday: We will focus on Cascadia as it exists now, with presentations and discussions focused around groups active right now, and issues facing our region.
Sunday: will focus on Cascadia tomorrow! and be focused around networking and organizing in the upcoming years.
IN ADDITION: We’ll also have a schedule of workshops, skillshares, and other things happening which are awesome, but not specifically Cascadia related.
More than anything, we just want to create a space that brings together fellow Cascadians for an awesome weekend. 

For the weekend, we’re asking $35, but no one will be turned away. Directions will be sent upon registration!

Registration for tickets, as well as band signup, vendors, and presentations, skillshares etc is open! This is your event and time, and yours to create.

http://cascadianow.us7.list-manage.com/track/click?u=70ce9bffbc51b4e5b621a3979&id=2093014a30&e=9532d02767

FB event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/696805300394540/

local pollinator networking

Would you like to be more of a naturalist? Sharpen your artistic and scientific eye for local biodiversity? Photograph your local pollinators, and thereby contribute to a growing database on pollinator sightings?

iNaturalist is a wonderful online resource where thousands of amateur and professional naturalists post photos, help each other identify species, and communicate about their sightings. iNaturalist is made up of many different local “projects”, to which anyone can submit photographs., and the Urban Pollination Project has an iNaturalist project on pollinators.

FAQs

Q. How can I upload my photos/observations to share them as data?

1. Make an iNaturalist account.

2. Go to the link provided in this email or search “Urban Pollination” on iNaturalist to go to our project, where you will need to join it.

3. Click on “Add observations”.

a. Please enter date and location plus comments

b. If you know the species, you can enter it. If you don’t, don’t worry! You have an option to say “species unknown”, and a little box you can check that says “ID please”—if you check this box, others can help identify it and leave you notes about it.

c. Upload your photos by clicking in the box that says “Select one or more photos” and searching for the correct file on your own computer. You can also choose to “sync observations with photo metadata”, meaning that if the photo comes tagged with date and GPS location, it will automatically be added.

You can upload directly from the field if you have a smartphone, by getting the iNaturalist app (free through iTunes—just google “iNaturalist app”). Then your photos will automatically be tagged with a GPS location and a date, making them instant data! Otherwise, you can photograph with a digital camera and upload from home, making sure you have recorded date, time, and location.

If you have any trouble with iNaturalist, creating observations, adding observations to the project, or any other concerns, please feel free to email us at urbanpollinationproject@gmail.com. We’ll help as best we can. If you would like to see an example account that is full of observations, feel free to check out the one belonging to senior UPP field intern Tessa Forbes, at this link: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/tessaf

 

vegan bee

On Speciesism and Token Gestures

The bottom line is that for any animal advocacy to bring about meaningful long term change for the billions killed each and every year for human pleasure, it needs to address speciesism. Convincing someone to give up beef for climate change, fishes to save the oceans or meat on one day a week for personal health? It merely persuades people to make token gestures for themselves — often just temporarily — rather than to initiate meaningful permanent change for other animals. People are left feeling better about choosing the other animal products they’ll invariably choose to replace the ones they may omit or use less often. They become convinced that those other options are better or more ethical choices. They’re left feeling good that they’ve done “enough” – and hey, if animal advocates are patting them on the back for it, then surely they’re doing enough, right?

Some animal advocates argue that “something is better than nothing”, assuming that getting non-vegans to shuffle animal products around is actually “something” in the first place. How is it “something” if instead of having a burger for lunch on Meatless Monday, someone instead has an omelette? How is it “something” if someone decides to stop consuming beef, but instead chooses to eat chickens or fishes? And why this false dichotomy, as if the only two options available in animal advocacy result in varying degrees of the continued deliberate exploitation of others? Is it not incredibly arrogant for us to think that although a message got through to us and we went vegan that the same could not possibly occur with others?

Those advocates insist that getting non-vegans to “lower” their animal consumption is some sort of “step in the right direction”, when the truth is that unless that direction is towards veganism, there are no actual “steps” being taken. When we try to persuade non-vegans to make small token gestures for themselves – for their health, their environment – rather than attempt to persuade them to make meaningful changes for the sake of those billions of others whose lives we steal each and every year, we are bargaining away the lives of innocents. Without addressing the underlying problem of speciesism and turning people’s focus to those others, we have no hope of seriously shifting the status quo.

Worse is that when animal advocates convey to the public that veganism is “too hard” and applaud token gestures, they actually leave the general public less willing to hear and weigh animal rights advocacy and an actual vegan message. After all, why would they listen when they’ve been told that they’ve already done enough? This is the horrible damage caused by groups like Vegan Outreach and all of the other large welfarist groups who pump their fists in the air over false victories. This is the horrible damage which we’re left to undo.

http://my-face-is-on-fire.blogspot.com/2014/06/on-speciesism-and-token-gestures.html?showComment=1404382988030

human's relation with nonhumanimals vegan quote on compassionate people eating meat