Posts Tagged ‘nature’
“Any sufficiently advanced civilization is indistinguishable from nature.” Explains everything from Avatar to the Fermi Paradox. Via MeFi.
Monday night 2!
* 61 Essential Postmodern Reads: An Annotated List. (Absalom, Absalom!? Hamlet? Really?)
* The Harvard Crimson reports that Henry Louis Gates was apparently arrested yesterday for trying to break into his own home. Post-racial America is awesome. (via SEK)
* Also from SEK: scientific proof Powerpoint sucks.
* Inside Blackwater, the corporation so evil they forgot to give it a non-evil name.
Certainly we ought to be discontented, we ought not simply to find out ways of making the best of a bad job, and yet if we kill all pleasure in the actual process of life, what sort of future are we preparing for ourselves? If a man cannot enjoy the return of spring, why should he be happy in a labour-saving Utopia? What will he do with the leisure that the machine will give him? I have always suspected that if our economic and political problems are ever really solved, life will become simpler instead of more complex, and that the sort of pleasure one gets from finding the first primrose will loom larger than the sort of pleasure one gets from eating an ice to the tune of a Wurlitzer. I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and — to return to my first instance — toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.
At any rate, spring is here, even in London N. 1, and they can’t stop you enjoying it. This is a satisfying reflection. How many a time have I stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could. But luckily they can’t. So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or a holiday camp, spring is still spring. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.
George Orwell, “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad,” 1946.
Art. 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.
Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.
With the public ratification of its new constitution last week, Ecuador has for the first time anywhere in history granted inalienable rights to nature. The new constitution also includes strict egalitarian provisions about food production, water access, and protection for indigenous peoples and uncontacted tribes.
As the Guardian link makes clear, this unprecedented act stems in part from Ecuador’s custodianship of the Galápagos Islands and in part from its long history of abuse at the hands of multinational corporations:
The origins of this apparent legal tidal shift lie in Ecuador’s growing disillusionment with foreign multinationals. The country, which contains every South American ecosystem within its borders, which include the Galapagos Islands, has had disastrous collisions with multi-national companies. Many, from banana companies to natural gas extractors, have exploited its natural resources and left little but pollution and poverty in their wake.
Now it is in the grip of a bitter lawsuit against US oil giant Chevron, formerly Texaco, over its alleged dumping of billions of gallons of crude oil and toxic waste waters into the Amazonian jungle over two decades.
It is described as the Amazonian Chernobyl, and 30,000 local people claim that up to 18m tonnes of oil was dumped into unlined pits over two decades, in defiance of international guidelines, and contaminating groundwater over an area of some 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) and leading to a plethora of serious health problems for anyone living in the area. Chevron has denied the allegations. In April, a court-appointed expert announced in a report that, should Chevron lose, it would have to pay up to $16bn (£8.9bn) in damages.
Chevron, which claims its responsibilities were absolved in 1992 when it handed over its operations in Ecuador to the state-owned extraction company, Petroecuador, immediately set about discrediting the report. A verdict on the case is still thought to be a long way off, and Ecuador’s government could face US trade sanctions for its refusal to “kill” the case.
It remains somewhat unclear what this law will mean in practice, especially in the context of a country whose economy is so heavily dependent on petroleum extraction. However things shake out, though, this should be a fascinating test case for protection of the environment outside the failed paradigms of property rights on the one hand and “securitization” on the other.
Here’s the full text of the relevant articles, including an intriguing bit of commentary that suggests a codified right to civil disobedience in defense of the environment: “Public organisms” in Article 1 means the courts and government agencies, i.e., the people of Ecuador would be able to take action to enforce nature rights if the government did not do so.
There’s still more at MeFi. This has received almost no press in the States, but it’s an amazing and very important development, definitely worth keeping your eyes on.
(cross-posted at culturemonkey)
Miners in New Mexico have discovered a huge crystal formation underneath the Chihuahuan Desert that bears an uncanny resemblance to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. (via grinding.be)
The thirty most incredible abstract satellite images of Earth. Below: Greenland’s Baffin Bay and Iran’s Dasht-e Kavir (“Valley of Desert”).