Archive for David Quammen

Dawn of a New Science

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Revolution with tags , , , , , , on October 6, 2014 by rgwallace
Globalized croplands

Globalization of croplands, 2004. Percentage of landscape area occupied by croplands whose products are incorporated as part of commodity chains (agricultural or otherwise) whose first consumers are located internationally. Calculations by Bergmann and Holmberg (c.f. Bergmann 2013a, Bergmann 2013b).

Bestselling David Quammen, who I skewered on Ebola, has a new book out on the virus. It’s an extract from his tome on spillovers I reviewed here.

While Quammen pays lip service to generalized poverty as one means by which the West African strain emerged, he diligently propagates the fallacy of the culture of infection.

In this ooga-booga interview he’s practically giddy with the notion proximate indigenous practices–sorcery and bushmeat–are to blame for Ebola, offering nary a word on the neoliberal policies driving deforestation and land grabbing.

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Neoliberal Ebola?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2014 by rgwallace

Ebola2With an update about David Quammen’s response at the bottom.

In spite of writing a long book on diseases spilling over from animals to humans, well-regarded author David Quammen can’t seem to get his mind wrapped around the possibility Ebola has likely evolved a new ecotype, for the first time spreading into a major urban area.

The first outbreak of Flaviviridae Filoviridae Ebola in West Africa apparently began in forest villages across four districts in southeastern Guinea as early as December 2013 before spreading to Conakry and the outskirts of Monrovia, the capitals of Guinea and Liberia respectively.

The number of deaths across West Africa presently stands at 149 killed out of 242 infected. According to the WHO, with a three-week incubation period cases are likely to continue to accumulate for months.

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Do Over

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza with tags , , on June 16, 2013 by rgwallace

SpilloverThe New York Times loved David Quammen’s new award-winning book, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic .

I eye it more askance,

Explaining the ecosystemic dependencies out of which new pathogens arise isn’t nearly enough, however. Quammen rarely touches the processes occurring farther upstream. Pathogens are embedded in circuits of capital in such a way as to reverse conclusions based on ecology alone.

Read more of my review here at CounterPunch.

Missed Anthropy

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , on October 9, 2012 by rgwallace

A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down, / On a branch. / I laugh, as I see him abandon himself / To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do / That the branch will not break. –James Wright (1963)

A trailer for David Quammen’s new book, Spillover, detailing the pathogen blowback our environmental destruction has set off, elicited a number of like-minded comments,

Earth, healing itself.

The Tibetans say that Mother Earth will shake us off the way a dog shakes off his fleas.

I could say Earth isn’t a person (or a dog), but even a well-deserved allegorical warning needn’t be served with such resplendent misanthropy. We’d hope all parties–even pro-sustainability–would recognize we are–the planet–an integrated ecosystem. Indeed, even if our entire race of ‘fleas’ were wiped out tomorrow, by our impact Earth’s biospheric trajectory would still be altered forever.

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