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robertogreco : landsat9   1

6, 52: Continuity
"Pleistocene Park has been in the news, maybe off this Independent coverage. My hunch is that rewilding and de-extinction (and cautious geoengineering generally) are probably great ideas and we’ll come to regret that we didn’t do our scientific and political due diligence earlier. But that’s only a strong opinion weakly held, and what seems more interesting now is understanding how Pleistocene Park, as a flagship, plays in the media.

It’s telling, for example, that Jurassic Park is so often the introductory metaphor. A few months ago, this newsletter mentioned the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve, another private rewilding project that’s more radical in at least five ways: (1) how close it is to people, (2) how far back in time it goes, (3) that it’s rewilding a species that was naturally locally extinct, (4) in terms of biomass turnover, and (5) how far along it is – already finding previously undocumented behavior. But Crescent Ridge is only charismatic megaflora, and Pleistocene Park just has to say “mammoth” to be news.

I think some of that comes down to people fearing mammoths. There’s maybe a sense that we would be in competition, that in a few years they might be intimidating joggers in Yakutsk and trampling wheat fields in Irkutsk. In other words, that large wild animals should probably not exist.

– I had buffalo burger for brunch today. The bison were the largest North American animals to survive the climate change and hunting at the end of the last glacial maximum. There were something like 25,000,000 of them before the United States. In 1890, there were about 1,100. Now there are about 500,000, many of them more or less sustainably ranched.

– Via @annegalloway’s more-than-human lab’s tumblr, 3,200 toy tigers around space for 40,000."



"Tangentially: the nearest big city to Bisie is Goma, on the Rwandan border, between Lake Kivu and Mount Nyiragongo. @jw_rosen has just written two articles about Goma and the lake: After years of war, Goma, DRC, is open for business and (with lovely photographs by Jason Florio) Lake Kivu’s Great Gas Gamble. Rosen is wary of many of the traps that certain other Western journalists are stuck in like wasps in bottles when they try to talk about the region. The gorillas, for example. Or the old National Geographic angle that I remember someone parodying with a line like “Biknis and Uzis: Beautiful, Troubled Brazil is a Land of Contrasts at a Crossroads”. Rosen manages to show a picture of Goma that encompasses complexity without absurdly exoticizing it, that can show M23, Au Bon Pain, natural disasters, and kombucha without being like “See?! This place is weirder than your place!”

(There are a couple angles here that I’m saving for another time, but just because I want to, here are two Goma-related videos I enjoyed: a cover of Pharrell’s Happy and Lake Kivu – Bukavu to Goma.)"



"This morning I read about the Mediterranean drownings, and the unidentified bodies of people who die of dehydration while crossing the border into Arizona, and then rich countries’ hesitations about bringing in Syrian refugees. I see the camps, you know. In the satellite imagery. It’s not as important as listening to the people in them. But helps me relate in other ways. The big ones – Zaatari, Dadaab – are as big as cities. They are cities, cities on life support.

My grandfather’s family were Czech Jews who narrowly avoided the Holocaust. The wealthy nations wouldn’t give them visas. Everyone could see what Hitler was up to. But the US and others still had antisemitic – anti–virtually-everyone – immigration quotas. When it mattered, there were two places in the world that would let them in: China and Bolivia. They went to Bolivia, and as antisemitism became less fashionable toward the end of the war they got to come to America. I’m grateful for what continuity I have with them: the saved letters, the family traits in stories. When I see people dying to cross borders today, I see more continuity. Not same-ness, just continuity. I can’t see people as desperate as my ancestors were and pretend it’s completely different. Everyone in danger of their life deserves help. They don’t earn that responsibility from the rest of us. They just have it, by being a person.

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, how can we guarantee that among these starving people and enemies of oppressive states there isn’t anyone who might fractionally lessen our own sense of security?”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, first we have to process them!”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, there’s all this darn paperwork!”

The thing about geography, for me, is continuity. Everywhere is related in calculable ways to everywhere else. There are walls on the ground, but the numbers move smoothly through them. The numbers come from land grabs and military ballistics. We can use them as invisible but omnipresent reminders that you can get there from here.

When I was small, I was used to worldbuilding fiction where the writer had left some things undiscovered. Often this must have been a way to build an ethos of mystery, of romance, of potential, of nascence. Other times it was probably a practical way of leaving options open for the settings of later books in the series. It was very unfair that on the real globe, everything habitable was explored. It felt mean to give the reader a world without the potential for huge lost societies who might have figured out a lot of surprising stuff. “This is all you get.” Rude."
africa  euope  us  migration  immigration  refugees  2015  charlieloyd  borders  border  mexico  congo  drc  bisie  goma  mining  lakekivu  landsat  landsat9  rewilding  crescentridgedawnredwoodspreserve  de-extinction  mammoths  magaflora  magafauna  science  sustainability  terraforming  bison  biomass  pleistocenepark  geoengineering  anthropocene  humanism  personhood  compassion  continuity  geography  society  policy  politics  politicalgeography  safety  security  fear 
april 2015 by robertogreco

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