Archive for deforestation

Losing Zika for the Trees

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2016 by rgwallace

zika mosquito

Children are always ready to believe that adult catastrophes are their fault. –P.D. James (1992)

If you haven’t heard by now, and I’d be surprised as we are full swing in this year’s plague alarm, there is presently a Zika outbreak in Latin America that appears to have begun in Brazil, infecting a million people there alone. The World Health Organization estimates four million will ultimately be infected as the virus spreads across Latin America.

Zika is a RNA virus of the Flavivirus group that includes dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, and chikungunya.

Most adults infected don’t exhibit symptoms. Only one out of five infected actually get sick. Those who do suffer a flu-like syndrome, including fever, rash, joint pain, malaise, dizziness, anorexia, edema, intestinal trouble, and at times conjunctivitis. It’s a comparatively mild infection as far as such diseases go. Zika has been described as a beginner’s chikungunya.

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Did Deforestation Spring Zika?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , on February 19, 2016 by rgwallace

This is the first of three clips in which I’m interviewed by the Real News Network about the outbreak of Zika virus across Latin America.

No matter what turns out to be the cause of the microcephaly thousands of Brazilian newborns are suffering–Zika, pesticides, something else, or some combo–a large literature shows the resurgence of the Flaviviruses–dengue, yellow fever, Chikungunya, and now Zika–is, like Ebola in West Africa, being driven largely by neoliberal deforestation.

By logging, mining, and monoculture agriculture, we appear to be stripping away the ecosystemic limits forests typically place upon many a pathogen.

I’ll have a more in-depth post on Zika in the days to follow.

Palmer and Patterson and Possibility

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 29, 2015 by rgwallace

Palmer and PattersonSetting ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ against Walter Palmer and ‪#‎CeciltheLion‬ is a failure of strategic imagination.

There are, of course, important differences that can’t be overemphasized. Otherwise we end up confounding the murders of humans and animals. But both cultural moments clearly speak to the nature of white privilege.

Racism and ecological expropriation aren’t orthogonal to each other. Indeed, Cecil’s death can be connected to land grabbing and deforestation across Africa straight out of John Henry Patterson. Which last I heard has something to do with black lives.

And if it takes a dead lion to move millions of perhaps misguided people out of a carefully cultivated metaphysics of isolated individuality into a more empathetic framework, I’ll take it. An ethos of mutual aid and solidarity isn’t necessarily going to come out of reading Kropotkin alone.

We’d do well to begin to be open to the aleatory nature of political circumstance. People arrive at the right idea by many a strange path. Continue reading

The One Wealth Approach

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2014 by rgwallace

One Wealth 2I’ll be speaking on Structural One Health at the University of Minnesota this Wednesday, April 16, as part of the Institute on the Environment’s ‘Frontiers in the Environment’ speakers series.

If you are unable to make the talk in the flesh, you can watch it live online here.


Global Capital and Disease Hot Spots

Rob Wallace, Visiting Scholar, Institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota

Wednesday, April 16, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
IonE Seminar Room R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul campus, University of Minnesota

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Whipsaw of Damocles

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2014 by rgwallace

Last week I gave a talk on climate change and pandemic influenza at the University of Washington. My presentation was a part of the Biological Futures in a Globalized World series held at the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

I was initially dubious about a connection between the crises until, as these things go, I investigated further. There appear a number of mechanistic relationships tying together the two catastrophes.

There may be a number of ways out of the jams as well, as millions of farmers around the world are advancing alternate futures right out from underneath agribusiness.

UPDATE. We should add another possible connection between climate change and influenza not in the presentation.

According to Shaman and Lipsitch (2012), the last four pandemics (1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009) were preceded by La Niña conditions that, changing patterns of waterfowl migration, may have rejuxtaposed serotypes and prompted new reassortants. As Mother Jones‘ Kiera Butler points out, reporting on this year’s H1N1 (2009) influenza, climate change affects the El Niño–Southern Oscillation.