We’ve Destroyed the Planet, Let’s Leave Something Beautiful Behind

We’re presently living in the anthropocene and it’s all our fault. The effects of industrialization will be felt for thousands of years to come and be evident millions of years from now (found in everything from fossil records to chemicals). There is a good chance that humanity will go extinct thanks to its own actions. You’re probably wondering where the good news is. It’s in art.

Paola Antonelli, a curator from MOMA, launched a project titled Broken Nature to address this future in the hopes it won’t happen; but if it does we will leave something beautiful behind for future life. She was recently interviewed by Fast Company about the project:

 There are two in completely different areas of the world: One is Futurefarmers by Amy Franceschini. She has a project called Seed Journey, in which a sailboat goes from Oslo to Istanbul, and it carries artists and bread bakers and activists and philosophers and carries wheat seeds that are indigenous to those different places. It’s about trying to bring back these original breeds of seeds and to also bring with them that tradition. It’s a beautiful journey by sea of biodiversity.

Another project is Totomoxtle in Mexico by Fernando Laposse. He uses the husks of corn to create new materials, and he does so by harnessing the craftsmanship of the people who grow corn breeds in different parts of Mexico. He’s also trying to help local populations revert to the indigenous breeds of corn that are maybe yielding less each year, because so much indigenous corn has been substituted by genetically modified breeds that yield more each year. Ultimately, it’s about empathy, and a love of the land and the communities.

Read more.

You Can Now Eat Climate Data

Ice cream
Ice cream is delicious and now you can eat a brand new flavour of it made of climate data. Well, it’s more like existing flavours put together to symbolize data about our climate and how it’s changing. Jonathon Keats is the brain behind the project and he’s mixing the ice cream together to raise awareness and to see if we can better understand the anthropocene if we use multiple senses.

The dessert will be served in Berlin during the STATE Festival for Open Science, Art & Society. If you’re in the area and looking for something sweet let us know if it tastes any good!

In his ice-cream model of the climate, Keats started with a detailed diagram of feedback loops made by University of Toronto computer scientist Steve Easterbrook. The model shows how each part of the system interrelates; as rising temperatures make ice melt, for example, the ground reflects less sunlight, which leads to even more warming.

In the sorbet, each part of the system is represented by a different ingredient that activates a different receptor in the gut. Sugar, which activates a receptor called TRPM-5, represents greenhouse gases; citric acids represent aerosols. Cinnamon is radiative balance, the relationship between the amount of energy reaching and leaving the Earth. In total, there are 12 ingredients

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We Are in the Anthropocene Epoch

Human civilization has undoubtedly changed the surface of the planet on a massive scale. There will be evidence of our civilization’s impact for millions of years to come. This may not strike you as good news considering it implies we’ve altered the planet in a way only nature itself could have done.

The good news comes from the fact that the Anthropocene Working Group has reached the conclusion that we are indeed in this epoch. This means that geological research and theory has a new intellectual framework to better our understanding of the world and how we as a species interact with it.

“Like any geological boundary, it is not a perfect marker – levels of global radiation really rose in the early 1950s, as salvoes of bomb tests took place,” said Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester’s Department of Geology and chair of the Anthropocene Working Group.

“But it may be the optimal way to resolve the multiple lines of evidence on human-driven planetary change. Time – and much more discussion – will tell.”

The term ‘Anthropocene’ was first coined by Nobel Prize winning chemist Paul Crutzen who in 2000 suggested that man’s impact on the world was so substantial that we were no longer in the Holocene – the era which began at the end of the last Ice Age around 11,700 years ago and saw unprecedented human expansion and the emrgency of towns and cities.

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Open-Access Science Growing in Reach

Many academic journals charge a subscription fee that is out of reach for the common person, which means that independent researchers and students are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing information. Elementa aims to make research about the anthropocene era we’re in freely accessible for everyone.

Elementa follows the example of organizations such as PLoS, who offers peer-reviewed research to academics worldwide on an open-access, public-good basis. Elementa aims to facilitate scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of accelerated human impact on natural systems. It is committed to the rapid publication of technically sound, peer-reviewed articles that address interactions between human and natural systems and behaviors. Six knowledge domains form the structure of the publication, each headed by an Editor-in-Chief – Atmospheric Science, Earth and Environmental Science, Ecology, Ocean Science, Sustainable Engineering, and Sustainability Sciences.

It’s not just academic journals that are freeing knowledge to make it more available in the USA. The White House has recently stated that research funded by the American government will be freely available:

The White House has moved to make the results of federally funded research available to the public for free within a year, bowing to public pressure for unfettered access to scholarly articles and other materials produced at taxpayers’ expense.

“Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support,” John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote on the White House website.

Read more about the White House’s open access stance.
Read more about Elementa.

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