Archive for spatial fix

Whipsaw of Damocles

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

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.


Strange Cotton

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2013 by Rob Wallace

Weighing cotton2Southern trees bear a strange fruit, / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, / Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. – Abel Meeropol (1936)

My momma was raised in the era when / Clean water was only served to the fairer skin / Doing clothes you would have thought I had help / But they wasn’t satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself… / I see the blood on the leaves. –Kayne West (2013)

Our political consciousness gestates early enough, perhaps in a rudimentary fashion as far back as the womb, but certainly on the playground and at the dinner table, daddy or mommy haranguing some politico. On the other hand, we also never really make it there. A 90-something I know, nodding out her window, copped to asking herself, Am I ever gonna figure that out?

Along the way there are revelations, some more trap doors than epiphanies. We learn history is both contingent and unexpectedly accumulative—shit happens in a growing pile—even as the pathways along which any set of circumstances converges aren’t always clear.

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