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How birds' genes influence adaptation to climate change
"As Earth’s climate changes, species must adapt, shift their geographical ranges, or face decline and, in some cases, extinction. Using genetics, biologists involved in the Bird Genoscape Project are racing against time to find out the potential for adaptation and how best to protect vulnerable populations of birds.

The project’s most recent study, published in Science, focuses on the yellow warbler. Found across most of North America, the bird spends its winters in Central and South America, and flies as far north as Alaska and the Arctic Circle in the summer, filling wildlands and backyards with color and song along the way.

Using more than 200 blood, tissue and feather samples from across the breeding range, the researchers discovered genes that appear to be responding to climate, and found that bird populations that most need to adapt to climate change are experiencing declines.

Senior author Kristen Ruegg, a research scientist at UC Santa Cruz and adjunct assistant professor at UCLA, said previous studies focused on how long-term changes in temperature and precipitation cause bird species to shift their geographic ranges. Genetic mapping offers the opportunity to look at another option—the capacity to adapt to climate change.

“With this research, we can say, based on these gene-environment correlations, here’s how populations will have to adapt to future climate change, and here are the populations that have to adapt most,” said Ruegg, who also is co-director of the Bird Genoscape Project.

Whether the yellow warbler will be able to adapt is another matter. “That’s our next big question,” Ruegg said.

Valuable information for conservationists

The new study uncovered some of the challenges yellow warblers already face. In some populations, genes associated with climate adaptation are mismatched to environments. These populations will likely have the hardest time adapting quickly enough to future climate shifts.

That’s been the case in the past, too. Comparing the genetic findings to breeding bird surveys dating back to the 1960s that track changes in bird abundance, the researchers determined that the populations that need to adapt most are already in decline. Using genetic maps, the habitats of the populations most vulnerable to climate change can now be targeted for protection, said Rachael Bay, lead author of the study and a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. The findings offer valuable information for conservationists who hope to protect species like the yellow warbler in the future, she said.

“Evolution has the potential to matter a lot when it comes to climate change response,” Bay said. “It’s a process we should start to integrate more when we make decisions, and it’s shown a lot of promise that hasn’t been realized yet.”

The yellow warbler is not currently endangered. It was selected for the study to give researchers a better understanding of how genes relate to climate variables across its broad range. But the bird may serve as a canary in the coal mine for species that are more at risk.

“This is an alarm bell,” said Tom Smith, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA and director of the Center for Tropical Research. “We spend a lot of time asking what is going to happen under climate change, what the effects will be and what we need to do to manage it. Our results shocked us—it’s happening now.”

The study sets the stage for two important next steps, Smith said. First, it means additional studies need to be done to learn how other species adapt to climate change. Second, the findings can be used now to tailor and inform future conservation management."
birds  nature  climatechange  adaptation  genetics  genes  evolution  survival  globalwarming  2018  animals  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  kristenruegg 
2 days ago by robertogreco
The word of God: how AI is deified in the age of secularism
“Digital technology, AI included, has appropriated the discourse about hope,” warns Floridi. “The hope of higher productivity, easier interactions, faster connections, better products, more social contacts…the rhetoric changes, but the fundamental promise is that a new digital technology will be better than an old one in fulfilling more promises.

“The risk is that digital techno-hope may manipulate and exploit people, replace any other kind of hope, including more spiritual ones, and end up supporting some superstitious view.” [...]

Despite the tech industry’s tendency to reframe society’s hopes and dreams with quasi-religious fervor, it’s worth noting that the veneration of man-made objects is by no means a new phenomenon. Viewed in the context of human civilization, deifying AI systems may be little more than a modern spin on idol worship; an algorithmic golden calf.

The meeting place between icon and intelligence is something Carroll compares to the Congolese nkisi fetish figures. “Looking at how this is made, it is a mix of flora (a tree), fauna (a chicken), human (the spirit of a killed hunter), the technical expertise of the priest, and the votive oath of the propitiate. Together, taking bits and pieces from different parts of society and the ecology, the nkisi becomes an agent in its own right and is able to kill, or seek revenge, etc. It is an intelligence, and a man-made one.”

This comparison very much depends, however, on whether you seek to think about AI as a man-made object or as an intelligent network. The 20th-century anthropologist Gregory Bateson, for example, conceived of “mind” as a supreme cybernetic system that encompasses individuals, societies, and ecosystems, not something contained in an individual person. This overarching mind is, Bateson argued, what some people call “god” — although he wasn’t fond of the term. Artificial intelligence, like Bateson’s theory, has grown out of cybernetics, and there are echoes of this thinking in everything from cloud computing to social networks.

But the leap between this conception and that of an omnipotent, omnipresent artificial superintelligence is the philosophical equivalent of running into a Road Runner–esque fake tunnel. AI systems may be able to learn board games and could be a great help to scientific research, but they are relatively useless at tasks that can’t be perfectly simulated on a computer. Even a video game like StarCraft is currently beyond the grasp of AI bots, let alone holistic decisions about the future direction of the human race.

Silicon Valley may be adept at leveraging the language of religion, but — to echo Floridi — there’s no more god in a neural network than in a kettle.
AI  anthropocene 
3 days ago by ayjay
Fossils of Lost Neighborhoods – BLDGBLOG
Nagle, you might say, is a kind of Mary Anning of the Anthropocene, collecting the fossils of forgotten neighborhoods as the land in which they’re buried erodes away.
archaeology  geology  history  anthropocene  paleontology  fossils  maryanning 
15 days ago by madamim
Atlas for the End of the World
[via: https://kottke.org/17/06/an-atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world ]

"Coming almost 450 years after the world's first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world's 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation's 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

By bringing urbanization and conservation together in the same study, the essays, maps, data, and artwork in this Atlas lay essential groundwork for the future planning and design of hotspot cities and regions as interdependent ecological and economic systems."



"The findings of this research are threefold: first, a majority of the ecoregions in the hotspots fall well short of United Nations' 2020 targets for protected lands; second, almost all the cities in the hotspots are projected to continue to sprawl in an unregulated manner into the world's most valuable habitats; and finally, only a small number of the 196 nations who are party to the CBD (and the 142 nations who have sovereign jurisdiction over the hotspots) have any semblance of appropriately scaled, land use planning which would help reconcile international conservation values with local economic imperatives.6

By focusing attention on the hotspots in the lead-up to the UN's 2020 deadline for achieving the Aichi targets, this atlas is intended as a geopolitical tool to help prioritize conservation land-use planning. It is also a call to landscape architects, urban designers, and planners to become more involved in helping reconcile ecology and economics in these territories.

Set diametrically at the opposite end of modernity to Ortelius' original, this atlas promotes cultivation, not conquest. As such, this atlas is not about the end of the world at all, for that cosmological inevitability awaits the sun's explosion some 2.5 or so billion years away: it is about the end of Ortelius' world, the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation. On this, even the Catholic Church is now adamant: "we have no such right" writes Pope Francis.7"



"This immense and ever-expanding trove of remotely sensed data and imagery is the basis of the world's shared Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The subject of this cyborgian, perpetual mapping-machine is not only where things are in space, but more importantly how things change over time. Because the environmental crisis is generally a question of understanding what is changing where, we can say that with remote sensing and its data-streams we have entered not only the apocalyptic age of star wars and the white-noise world of global telecommunications, but more optimistically, the age of ecological cartography.

The "judgment and bias" of this atlas lies firstly in our acceptance of the public data as a given; secondly in the utilization of GIS to rapidly read and translate metadata as a reasonable basis for map-making in the age of ecological cartography; thirdly, in our foregrounding of each map's particular theme to the exclusion of all others; and finally in the way that a collection of ostensibly neutral and factual maps is combined to form an atlas that, by implication, raises prescient questions of land-use on a global scale."



"Who are the Atlas authors?
The Atlas for the End of the World project was conceived and directed by Richard Weller who is the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). The Atlas was researched and created in collaboration with Claire Hoch and Chieh Huang, both recent graduates from the Department of Landscape Architecture at UPenn now practicing landscape architecture in Australia and the United States."
biodiversity  culture  future  maps  anthropocene  earth  multispecies  environment  ecology  ecosystems  mapping  data  visualization  infographics  dataviz  bioregions  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  economics  endangersspecies  statistics  richardweller  clairehoch  chiehhuang 
17 days ago by robertogreco
An Atlas for the End of the World
"The Atlas for the End of the World is a project started by Penn architect Richard Weller to highlight the effects of human civilization and urbanization on our planet’s biodiversity.
Coming almost 450 years after the world’s first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation’s 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

There’s lots to see at the site: world and regional maps, data visualizations, key statistical data, photos of plants and animals that have been modified by humans, as well as several essays on a variety of topics.

And here’s a fun map: countries with national biodiversity strategies and action plans in place. Take a wild guess which country is one of the very few without such a plan in place!"

[See also:
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots/california_floristic_province.pdf
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/flora_and_fauna.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps/world_maps_biodiversity_planning.html ]
anthropocene  maps  mapping  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  biodiversity  ecology  economics  ecosystems  endangersspecies  visualization  data  statistics 
17 days ago by robertogreco
We Have Never Known Mother Earth | Public Books
Bruno Latour
“WE HAVE BECOME THE PEOPLE WHO COULD HAVE ACTED THIRTY OR FORTY YEARS AGO – AND DID NOTHING, OR FAR TOO LITTLE.”
anthropocene 
19 days ago by zryb
Cthulhu plays no role for me - Viewpoint Magazine
It is as though these new Harawayian companions – the chthonic ones – are making precisely the error she bewailed over the cyborg: “wallowing in the sublime of [His] domination.” I have been relieved to see that, in the interviews in Fabrizio Terranova’s recent and beautiful film Donna Haraway, Haraway contradicts some of the elements of Staying with the Trouble laid out in this essay. “It is really important to be in revolt,” she emphasizes there: “We do have to practice war: we do have to be for some worlds and against others.” Sadly, however, that is not what comes across on the written page. So, forget the Chthulucene. Despite all its talk of numerically decimated humankind, this theoretic turn is not remotely destructive enough. Ultimately, this Cthulhu guy’s got nothing on cyborg revolution when it comes to abolishing present realities. What if the cyborgs made a comeback? They knew who their enemies were. Overpopulation did not number among them. There is so much on earth, after all, that we really do have to destroy.
anthropocene 
19 days ago by zryb
Cosmoecological Sheep and the Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet | Environmental Humanities | Duke University Press
"In recent decades, in the South of France some young people from urban backgrounds have chosen to become shepherds and to learn to reconnect with the herding practices that many livestock breeders had abandoned under the pressure of agricultural modernization policies. In some cases they have found themselves entrusted with sheep that are as naive about herding as they themselves were. Before their introduction to transhumance—seasonal movement between pastures—these animals were primarily confined and fed indoors or in small fenced areas. The shepherds had to learn how to lead, how to understand other modes of living, how to teach their sheep what is edible and what is not, and how to form a flock; the sheep had to learn how to “compose with” dogs and humans, to acquire new feeding habits, a new ethos, and moreover, new ways of living in an enlarged world. These practices cannot be reduced to a livestock economy: shepherds consider herding a work of transformation and ecological recuperation—of the land, of the sheep, of ways of being together. Learning the “arts of living on a damaged planet,” as Anna Tsing has termed it, humans and animals are making their own contributions to a new cosmoecology, creating cosmoecological connections and contributing to what Ghassan Hage has called alter-politics."
cosmoecology  cosmopolitics  sheep  shepherds  multispecies  morethanhuman  ethology  ethics  economics  2016  vincianedespret  michelmeuret  france  annalowenhaupttsing  herding  agriculture  livestock  animals  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  ecology  alter-politics  ghassanhage  anthropocene  latecapitalism 
29 days ago by robertogreco

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