Reblogged from The Disorder Of Things | For the Relentless Criticism of All Existing Conditions Since 2010

As per our disciplinary formations, IR scholars often indoctrinate instruct their students with the assumption that anarchy is a constant in international relations. The use of the term, however, generally assumes that there are natural/material constants within the international that transcend central concepts of sovereignty, power, and choice/preference. In other words, the assumption is that anarchy has (material) limits. Even those subscribing to the discursive turn would/might agree that there are material constraints that limit ‘meaning construction.’ We base a number of international laws, norms and regulations on this assumption; there are certain constants that cannot be changed through human actions. Our aspirations, capabilities, hopes, preferences, do not change these constants. What if – and this is a big ‘what if’ – for the time being, we are increasingly wrong about this assumption? What if human ability to transform the earth’s eco-systems has reached a level where this basic assumption no longer holds valid, or as valid as it used to be?

A number of geologists, environmental scientists, and futurists alike have already picked up on this trend. Looking at climate change in particular, they claimed that the earth has entered a new epoch in its life cycle. “We now live in the age of Anthropocene!” these scholars claim. Anthropocene, in this context, refers to the humans’ distinct ability to affect earth’s ecosystems.

via The Disorder Of Things | For the Relentless Criticism of All Existing Conditions Since 2010.

Reblogged from “The Disorder of things”. Confronting the Global Colour Line

Our edited volume Race and Racism in International Relations: Confronting the Global Colour Line has now been published. We asked some of the contributors to give us their thoughts on what has been (both deliberately and unwittingly) overlooked by the discipline of International Relations with regard to questions of race and racism; the challenges posed by (re)centring these vital questions; and how IR may atone for its implication in empire. At your service, Sankaran Krishna, Debra Thompson, Srdjan Vucetic and John Hobson.

via Confronting the Global Colour Line.

U.S. approaching ‘tipping points’ for sea level rise-related flooding earlier than expected | AGU Newsroom

SAN FRANCISCO –By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due to dramatically accelerating impacts from sea level rise, according to a study published today in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Annapolis, Maryland, pictured here in 2012, is one of three major East Coast urban areas already being faced with nuisance flooding in excess of 30 days per year. Credit: Amy McGovern

The new study establishes a frequency-based benchmark for what the authors call “tipping points” for when so-called nuisance flooding—flooding between 0.3 to 0.6 meters (one to two feet) above local high tide—occurs 30 or more times a year. The study used a 0.5 to 1.2 meters (1.5 to four foot) set of recent projections for global sea level rise by year 2100 similar to the rise projections of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, but also accounting for local factors such as the settlement of land, known as subsidence.

Based on that standard, the team found that these tipping points will be met or exceeded by 2050 at most of the U.S. coastal areas studied, regardless of sea level rise likely to occur this century.According to the study authors,these regional tipping points will be surpassed in the coming decades in areas with more frequent storms, or areas where local sea levels rise more than the standard global projection of 0.5 to 1.2 meters (1.5 to four feet). This also includes coastal areas like Louisiana where subsidence is causing land to sink below sea level.

The new study, presented at a press conference today at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, used data from NOAA tide gauges to show the annual rate of daily nuisance floods has drastically increased, even accelerating in recent years. This type of flooding is now five to 10 times more likely today than 50 years ago.

“Coastal communities are beginning to experience sunny-day nuisance or urban flooding, much more so than in decades past,” said William Sweet, oceanographer at NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) in Silver Spring, Maryland, and lead author on the study. “This is sea level rise. Unfortunately, once impacts are noticed, they will become commonplace rather quickly.  We find that in 30-40 years even modest projections of global sea level rise – 1.5 feet by 2100 – will increase instances of daily high tide flooding to a point requiring an active, and potentially costly, response and by the end of this century, our projections show that there will be near-daily nuisance flooding in most of the locations that we reviewed.”

The scientists base the projections on NOAA tidal stations where there is a 50-year or greater continuous record. The study does not include the Miami area, as the NOAA tide stations in the area were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and a continuous 50-year data set for the area does not exist.

Based on that criteria, the NOAA team is projecting that Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Norfolk, Virginia; and Wilmington, North Carolina; all along the Mid-Atlantic coast, will soon make, or are already being forced to make, decisions on how to mitigate these nuisance floods earlier than planned. In the Gulf, NOAA forecasts earlier than anticipated floods for Galveston Bay and Port Isabel, Texas.  Along the Pacific coast the earlier impacts will be most visible in the San Diego/La Jolla and San Francisco Bay areas.

Mitigation decisions could range from retreating further inland to coastal fortification or to a combination of “green” infrastructure using both natural resources such as dunes and wetland, along with “gray” man-made infrastructure such as sea walls and redesigned storm water systems.

“As communities across the country become increasingly vulnerable to water inundation and flooding, effective risk management is going to become more heavily reliant on environmental data and analysis,” noted Holly Bamford, NOAA acting assistant secretary for conservation and management.  “Businesses, coastal managers, federal, state, and local governments, and non-governmental organizations can use research such as this as another tool as they develop plans to reduce vulnerabilities, adapt to change, and ensure they’re resilient against future events.”

“The importance of this research is that it draws attention to the largely neglected part of the frequency of these events. This frequency distribution includes a hazard level referred to as ‘nuisance’: occasionally costly to clean up, but never catastrophic or perhaps newsworthy,” said Earth’s Future editor Michael Ellis, Head of Climate Change Science at the British Geological Survey in Nottingham, United Kingdom, in accepting the paper for the online journal.

Ellis also observed that “the authors use observational data to drive home the important point that nuisance floods (from inundating seas) will cross a tipping point over the next several decades and significantly earlier than the 2100 date that is generally regarded as a target date for damaging levels of sea-level. The paper also raises the interesting question of what frequency of ‘nuisance’ corresponds to a perception of ‘this is no longer a nuisance but a serious hazard due to its rapidly growing and cumulative impacts’.”

via U.S. approaching ‘tipping points’ for sea level rise-related flooding earlier than expected | AGU Newsroom.

John Muir’s Last Stand

The postmodern greens aim to reorient conservation’s primary focus away from establishing protected areas intended to help prevent human-caused extinctions and to sustain large-scale natural ecosystems. Instead, they advocate sustainable management of the biosphere to support human aspirations, particularly for a growing global economy. If some species go extinct that may be regrettable, goes their thinking, but the bottom line is that nature is resilient. As long as “working landscapes” (places we manipulate to produce commodities) are managed well enough to sustain “ecosystem services” (things like water filtration, soil health, and crop pollination), human welfare can be supported without lots of new protected areas (habitat for other species) getting in the way of economic growth.

Some of the most prominent of these new conservationists have warned against critiquing the techno-industrial growth economy that is everywhere gobbling up wild nature. “Instead of scolding capitalism,” they write, “conservationists should partner with corporations in a science-based effort to integrate the value of nature’s benefits into their operations and cultures.”

via John Muir’s Last Stand.

Thomas Docherty on academic freedom | Features | Times Higher Education

Reposted from Times Higher Education:

Managerial fundamentalism has taken hold in universities, with scholars viewed as resources that must be controlled, argues the Warwick scholar

via Thomas Docherty on academic freedom | Features | Times Higher Education.

Systems Thinking: Seeing How Everything is Connected

“We need to shift paradigms, to grow wiser, all of us, especially the dominant cultures and civilizations.”

Creative by Nature

“Knowledge without deep comprehension, imagination and compassion is just a more complex form of ignorance. We need to shift paradigms, to grow wiser, all of us, especially the dominant cultures and civilizations. We are good at building machines, because we have learned to think mechanistically. Such thinking got us to the moon, but it’s never going to solve the social and ecological problems that it helped to create.”

paradigm_shift

Nowadays, most people seem to be aware of the ecological crisis facing our planet. We understand that our consumer lifestyles create toxic waste that pollutes the air, water and land. We understand that these come back to us and may account for the rise in health problems such as cancer, asthma and allergies.

We know that animal species are going extinct because of the forests we have cut down in order to raise cattle and grow popular “consumer” foods such as cocoa…

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Doctors see health and hope in Burnaby Mountain protests | Vancouver Observer

Reposted from Vancouver Observer:

“Climate change is the biggest public health threat of the 21st century.  The Lancet said it first in 2009.  Since then, British Medical Journal, the Canadian Medical Association Journal the Journal of the American Medical Association, and others have urged MDs to take action to treat and prevent the increases in heat-related illness, air-pollution-related problems and mental and stress-related disorders that have been predicted.

Unfortunately, climate change wasn’t well covered in medical school—so as a group, physicians have been slow off the mark in responding to the climate crisis. As with all of medicine’s most profound issues, however—we have the blessing of the best teachers of all—our patients.

Remarkably, our patients have recently been putting on a clinic on climate and community health in the most unlikely of locations– up Burnaby Mountain.  They stood up for the health of the planet and the people whose lives depend on it. They stood in recognition of the right of communities to set aside conservation areas where people can enjoy the well-documented health benefits of exercise and the contemplation of nature.  They stood for the idea that the health of children is as important as the health of today’s ruling generation.

As doctors, we have been inspired.  The medical literature has been telling us that we must attend to this Code Green outside of the hospital with all the urgency we would lend to a Code Blue within it.  And now our patients have done just that.

In thanks, let us now add our voices to the climate-health efforts with three major reasons for hope:

1-Tackling climate change will have substantial health benefits.

A transition to clean energy and carbon pricing will decrease emissions as well as the costs and health impacts of air pollution, which is currently responsible for 1 in 8 deaths worldwide.  Active commuting will help decrease chronic disease. Distributed renewable energy generation and local food will create jobs, reduce poverty (and its indisputable effect on health), and help make our society more resilient to adverse weather events.

2-Treatment is possible….” Read on

via Doctors see health and hope in Burnaby Mountain protests | Vancouver Observer.

Scientists will be forced to knock on doors under health research grant changes – Health – CBC News

To understand what’s going on requires a short primer on how medical research is funded in Canada.

Most of the country’s health scientists apply for funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which receives just over a billion dollars a year from Ottawa for health science research.

About half of that money is awarded through an open competition, in a process so competitive that only around 15 per cent of those who apply are successful in securing research grants.

And scientists were already upset about new rules in that open competition. It overhauled a long standing peer review process where scientists met to discuss which grants were the best candidates for funding. It also set aside almost half of the money to fund a small number of large labs or collaborations, leaving the rest of the scientists to compete for limited funding opportunities.

‘Many of these resource industries are the cause of many of our health problems so to get funding from them would be problematic.’

– Rod McCormick

Those changes had already “imposed significant anxiety and confusion among researchers,” according to one letter sent to the head of CIHR.

Now, adding to that confusion, is a new series of changes that will affect the structure of the CIHR’s 13 research institutes, which specialize in areas such as aboriginal health, child health, gender studies, nutrition, and aging.

The institutes each have their own independent advisory board, and they award grants based on priorities they establish within each institute, to focus on specialized areas of research.

Or at least that’s how it used to be.

Now, in a decision making process described as “shrouded in secrecy,” the CIHR is implementing changes that risk pitting one institute against the other as their budgets are cut in half.

The other half of the money is being pooled into a common fund, and to access that money the institutes will have to compete with each other, and the scientists will have to knock on doors to find matching external funding.

It’s a requirement that has raised particular concerns at the Institute for Aboriginal People’s Health, where researchers fear they have few options for finding those matching funds.

“Unfortunately for aboriginal people, we don’t really have many organizations we can leverage with,” said Rod McCormick, who holds the B.C. Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. “I don’t think it’s a secret that the Harper government wants us to get our funding from resource industries. But many of these resource industries are the cause of many of our health problems so to get funding from them would be problematic.”

via Scientists will be forced to knock on doors under health research grant changes – Health – CBC News.