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Before calling Africa a “Third-World” continent, think again.
It’s due to western imperialism and capitalism that strangled strangles Africa.


Before calling Africa a “Third-World” continent, think again.

It’s due to western imperialism and capitalism that strangled strangles Africa.

(Source: jayaprada)

824 notes

A Chicago researcher says he’s found insight into how ecosystems work from what may be the world’s most basic game: rock, paper, scissors. 

Stefano Allesina says there’s long been a paradox in ecology. An ecosystem can teem with thousands of competing species, but the math can’t quite explain that. Models suggest that more strong ones should push out more weak ones, leaving fewer species overall. 

Now Allesina says he’s worked out a new model to account for the diversity. The key was finding a setting where multiple, equally powerful contestants can all survive: rock, paper, scissors. 

“For any two species, you have one winner, and it’s a very clear winner,” says Allesina, an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. “But through a third species, they can close this cycle, and then start this mechanism.”

Allesina scaled up the game to not just three variables, but hundreds or thousands. He says his model could account for almost unlimited biodiversity, and it also explains why the loss of one seemingly minor species can topple a carefully balanced ecosystem. 

His findings are out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

(Source: caraobrien)

18 notes

Not that I don’t understand, and even appreciate the sentiment of this, something about this bugs me. There’s a fine line between these feelings and ‘Manifest Destiny’ and Imperialism.

Not that I don’t understand, and even appreciate the sentiment of this, something about this bugs me. There’s a fine line between these feelings and ‘Manifest Destiny’ and Imperialism.

1,425 notes

What’s Behind The Monster Snowstorms?

by astrophysicist Michio Kaku

"To understand the many forces behind the current surge in snow storms, you have to understand where they come from. Basically, cold Arctic air sweeps down from Canada, and eventually collides with moist, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. The collision produces show storms which then climb up the Northeast corridor.

Common sense tells us that freezing air is the main driver of monster snow storms. The reality is more complex. Many factors influence the strengh of a snow storm, especially amount of moisture in the air. Think of making ice cubes in a refrigerator. The more water in the ice tray, the more ice cubes you make. Lowering the temperature of the refrigerator mainly makes the water freeze faster, but has no effect on the amount of ice produced. (After all, it does not matter if the ice is at 30, 31, or 32 degrees.) Similarly, one of the main drivers of huge snow storms is less the freezing temperature, and more the moisture in the warm air.

There is no single smoking gun as to what is behind the current snow storms. But, we have two theories:

a) It could be random fluctuations. For example, we had the tail-end of El Nino last year, which disrupted the jet stream and created more warm water currents. This year, we had no El Nino.

b) It could be global warming. This might heat up the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, creating more moisture, and hence creating more snow storms. This violates common sense, but common sense is often wrong.

No one knows precisely what is causing the current snow storm activity. Anyone who claims to know exactly what is driving the weather probably does not know what they are talking about.

But it is consistent with global warming. For example, 2010 went down as the one of the hottest years ever recorded by science (tied with 2005) since records were kept in 1880. But we also have vastly different weather conditions in other parts of the world. This is because global warming causes increasingly large swings in the weather. Global warming is not a uniform process, but one which causes flooding in one area, droughts in another, snow storms in another, and heat spells in yet another. I was speaking in Brazil two weeks ago, where there were record mud slides, which were caused by massive flooding and probably due to more moisture in the air.

Think of pushing a child on a swing. Adding energy to the swing does not make it rise farther and then stop. Adding energy makes the kid’s swings much larger. Similarly, adding energy to the earth does not make temperatures rise uniformly. It causes swings instead. So global warming should actually be called global swings. Of course, this is a controversial topic. But the controversy revolves around whether human activity is driving this increase in weather. There is almost no disagreement that the earth itself is heating up (the disagreement is over what is causing it).

What does this mean for the future? I don’t know.

But if the earth continues to heat up, and more moisture is released into the atmosphere, it might mean more snow storms and hurricanes. Get used to it.”


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“The level of cooperation that exists between federal and state governments and large private corporations amoutns to an oppressive system. […] When corporations contribute to both candidates in an election, you have to ask yourself, is it really becasue they just can’t make up their minds? This says nothing of elections that corporations are openly trying to throw by spending millions on advertising or other forms of influence peddling. I think we need to remember that disinformation and propaganda, and the fabrication of false mythologies (which advertising does in the United States on a regular basis), genocide, and state-sponsored violence are the means by which fascism achieves its end—the conjoining of government and industry in one totalitarian system. I find this very troubling to think about, particularly when I consider how information is handled in our country, the severe economic hardship in the cities and the attendant day-to-day violence, the state-sponsored violence outside our borders, and the violence regularly done to animals by industrialized people. But it’s really difficult for us as a people to take the effects of oppression seriously, because we are living in a state of relative comfort.”

John Keeble, in conversation with Derrick Jensen in Jensen’s book of interviews, Listening to the Land, p. 89

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“Everything we see, hear, taste, smell, touch, is a human artifact. All the sensory information we receive is fabricated, and most of it is mediated by machines. I think the only thing that makes it bearable is the fact that our sensory capacities are so terribly diminished—just as they are in all domesticates—that we no longer know what we are missing.

The wild animal is receiving information for all the senses, from an uncountable number of sources, every moment of its life. We get it from one only—ourselves. It’s like doing solitary confinement in an echo chamber. People doing solitary do strange things. And the common experience of victims of sensory deprivation is hallucination. I believe that our received cultural wisdom, our anthropocentric beliefs and ideologies, can easily be seen as hallucinations.

(In related news, the stock market rose sharply today in heavy trading.)”

-Derrick Jensen

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