Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Wade Davis comments on the ecological amnesia which has resulted in repeated cycles of extinctions:
In three generations, a mere moment in the history of our species, we have throughout the world contaminated the water, air and soil, driven countless species to extinction, dammed the rivers, poisoned the rain and torn down the ancient forests. As Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson reminds us, this era will not be remembered for its wars or technological advances but as the time when men and women stood by and either passively endorsed or actively supported the massive destruction of biological diversity on the planet.

Given the dire consequences, how might we explain this peculiar and ultimately self-destructive capacity to shed memory and shift our expectations as we adapt to an increasingly impoverished world? Were this to be a fundamental adaptive trait of our species, we would surely find evidence scattered throughout the ethnographic record. But most assuredly we do not.
...Just as 18th-century slavers concocted racial fantasies to mask the evil of their trade, perhaps we have learned to shed memory to avoid confronting the actual consequences of our egregious violations of the natural world. Our shifting expectations and dimming memory are less an adaptive trait than a reflexive impulse. If we are responsible for the numbing of our own senses, we can surely awaken to new possibilities as stewards of life, inspired by Indigenous peoples who have walked this path before us, guided by a conscience informed by memory.
- Jared Keller writes that the destruction from Hurricane Michael offers one reminder as to the security risks associated with climate breakdown. And Art Cullen discusses the threat a hotter, drier planet poses to agriculture in the U.S. and elsewhere - even as the problem is ignored by the Trump administration.

- Meanwhile, Simon Flowers sets out a readily-achievable scenario in which a determined transition to clean energy would exceed the Paris emissions reduction targets. And Lorraine Chow writes about New Zealand's decision to end new offshore oil and gas exploration out of its recognition that fossil fuel expansion and environmental responsibility are utterly incompatible.

- Finally, the Economist reports that rising inequality isn't limited to wages and income, as benefits are also diverging between the U.S.' higher- and lower-income workers. Bethany Hastie replies to a review of British Columbia's Labour Code by pointing out the need for far more protection for people facing precarious work. And Simran Dhunna discusses how the Libs are leaving immigrant caregivers at the mercy of employers with little hope of achieving permanent residency in Canada.

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