Archive for August, 2016

Climate change is never going to announce itself by name. But this is what we should expect it to look like.

That’s what many scientists, analysts and activists are saying after heavy rains in southern Louisiana have killed at least 11 people and forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes, in the latest in a series of extreme floods that have occurred in the United States over the last two years.

That increase in heavy rainfall and the resultant flooding “is consistent with what we expect to see in the future if you look at climate models,” said David Easterling, a director at the National Centers for Environmental Information, which is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Not just in the U.S. but in many other parts of the world as well.”

The flooding in Louisiana is the eighth event since May of last year in which the amount of rainfall in an area in a specified window of time matches or exceeds the NOAA predictions for an amount of precipitation that will occur once every five hundred years, or has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in any given year.

Louisiana joins five other states, most of them in the South, that have experienced deadly flooding in the last 15 months, including Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina and West Virginia.

In the last three months alone, floods in Maryland, West Virginia and Louisiana have combined to kill dozens of people and damage tens of thousands of homes and vehicles.

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Un genetista viaja por algunos países siguiendo la huella genética de los antiguos, que partieron desde África hasta América.

Interesante documental.

About 2,000 miles east of Australia is collection of islands called New Caledonia. The French territory is astonishingly beautiful, but the most astonishing thing about it has got to be the crows. With their beguiling smarts, New Caledonian crows are the valedictorians of the avian world (which is saying a lot, since birds have neuron counts on par with apes). New Caledonians can solve certain logic puzzles as well as 7-year-olds do, construct their own tools, and they’ve sussed out that if you drop a stone into a glass of water, it will rise.

Now those New Caledonians have been observed doing yet another holy crap, that’s awesome kind of thing. As reported in New Scientist, the crows have now been seen using tools to carry another object, like slipping a wooden stick into a metal nut. It’s reportedly the first time that a nonhuman animal has been seen inserting one object into another to transport it somewhere. “One subject used a stick to transport an object that was too large to be handled by beak, which suggests the tool facilitated object control,” writes lead author and Lund University cognitive scientist Ivo F. Jacobs and his colleagues. “The function in the other cases is unclear but seems to be an expression of play or exploration.”

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Pequeño documental pero bastante interesante sobre la Batalla o Guerra del Mixtón (1541-1542), conflicto que involucró una violenta resistencia contra los europeos por parte de los nativos de la Gran Chichimeca, la mayoría de estos, grupos de cazadores-recolectores nómadas y seminómadas de la Mesoamérica Septentrional  (Norte de México).

El documental contado por historiadores y gente autóctona de Zacatecas, narra los comienzos del conflicto, su desarrollo, el clímax de los enfrentamientos y el desenlace.

Aunque contrariamente a lo que se dice en el documental sobre el Tlatoani chichimeca que lideraba la rebelión, el caxcan Tenamaztle, al leer las crónicas y la historia del actuar de Tenamaztle podremos decir firmemente que él NO quería derechos ni privilegios para él o para los nativos, ni tendría porque ser representado como un hombre que “luchó” por los “derechos humanos”, eso es la visión errónea que el occidental moderno tiene de él.

Y las pruebas de esto que decimos están en la historia: Tenamaztle al verse sitiado por los españoles en el Cerro del Mixtón, al ver que muchos de sus guerreros habían decidido morir arrojándose como proyectiles humanos contra los españoles y al no contar con armas suficientes, comenzó una negociación fingida con los invasores, en la negociación Tenamaztle se entregaría a los españoles y se “rendiría” para así terminar con el conflicto. Este fue apresado y los españoles creyeron que la guerra había terminado. Los pocos caxcanes y zacatecos que lograron sobrevivir a la batalla también se “rindieron”, días después amablemente pidieron a los españoles ver a su líder que se encontraba encarcelado, pero estos en una rápida maniobra comenzaron un enfrentamiento en el que lograron rescatar a Tenamaztle y huir hacia los cerros cercanos para continuar con la guerra.

Aquí analizando la situación, terminada la Guerra del Mixtón, al ser Tenamaztle fue uno de los poquísimos líderes que sobrevivieron,  él fingió rendirse para sobrevivir a las armas de los occidentales y así permitir que su grupo se reagrupara para que después lo rescataran, todo estaba planeado.

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La Danza de sol Lakota

La danza del Sol en lengua lakota se llama wi wanyang wacipi, cuyo significado literal es “danza de mirar fijamente al Sol”. No se trata de un culto al Sol sino de una ceremonia de “renovación del mundo” y de peticiones de fecundidad.

El ritual sioux comenzaba con la construcción de una cabaña, se cortaba un árbol que se colocaba en el centro del campamento y sobre él se ponían una serie de ofrendas. La danza se iniciaba el 21 de junio en el solsticio de verano, en general duraba cuatro días, en un momento del ritual se colocaba un cráneo de bisonte entre los que danzaban y se cantaba lo siguiente:

“iWakan Tanka, ten misericordia de nosotros!, ¡queremos vivir! Esta es la razón por la que hacemos esto. Dicen que viene una manada de bisontes; ya están aquí. El poder del bisonte viene a nosotros; ¡ya está aquí! (…) ¡Wakan Tanka, miranos! El más próximo a tos que andan en dos pies, el jefe de los que andan a cuatro patas, es tatanko, el bisonte. Aquí está su cráneo seco, al verlo sabemos que también nosotros nos convertiremos en cráneos y esqueletos y de este modo caminaremos juntos por el camino de regreso al Gran Espíritu (…). Aquí en la tierra, vivimos con el bisonte y estamos agradecidos por ello, pues él nos da nuestro alimento y hace dichoso al pueblo, es nuestro pariente (.j. ¡Oh bisonte, tú eres la tierra!”

Los indios trataban al bisonte como a un pariente. El bisonte era considerado un ser sagrado con fuertes poderes y el mensajero de la supervivencia en las praderas.

Mediante privaciones y penitencias corporales, los danzantes tratan de suscitar la compasión de Wakan Tanka y garantizar así la perpetuidad de la tribu. El ayuno y la tortura voluntaria son elementos esenciales.

La danza a pleno Sol es un durísimo sacrificio corporal, además los danzantes soplan constantemente por una especie de flauta de huesos de águila, lo que acrecienta su sed. La prueba más difícil, reservada a los varones, tiene lugar el cuarto día y recibe el nombre de “Perforación”. Para ello se colocan sobre una piel de bisonte, junto al poste sagrado, y el chamán les practica en el pecho, justo por encima de las tetillas, dos cortes paralelos en los que introduce sendas púas de madera; luego anuda en estas púas una cuerda sujeta al poste. Las mujeres participan en la danza y están excluidas de esta prueba, pero a su modo también ellas ofrecen un sacrificio doloroso, haciéndose arrancar del brazo algunos trocitos de piel. Asimismo en esta ocasión se les perforan las orejas a los niños, acto simbólico por el que son oficialmente incorporados a la comunidad tribal.

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In Peru, an unsolved killing has brought the Mashco Piro into contact with the outside world.

Before Nicolás (Shaco) Flores was killed, deep in the Peruvian rain forest, he had spent decades reaching out to the mysterious people called the Mashco Piro. Flores lived in the Madre de Dios region—a vast jungle surrounded by an even vaster wilderness, frequented mostly by illegal loggers, miners, narco-traffickers, and a few adventurers. For more than a hundred years, the Mashco had lived in almost complete isolation; there were rare sightings, but they were often indistinguishable from backwoods folklore.

Flores, a farmer and a river guide, was a self-appointed conduit between the Mashco and the region’s other indigenous people, who lived mostly in riverside villages. He provided them with food and machetes, and tried to lure them out of the forest. But in 2011, for unclear reasons, the relationship broke down; one afternoon, when the Mashco appeared on the riverbank and beckoned to Shaco, he ignored them. A week later, as he tended his vegetable patch, a bamboo arrow flew out of the forest, piercing his heart. In Peru’s urban centers, the incident generated lurid news stories about savage natives attacking peaceable settlers. After a few days, though, the attention subsided, and life in the Amazonian backwater returned to its usual obscurity.

In the following years, small groups of Mashco began to venture out of the forest, making fleeting appearances to travellers on the Madre de Dios River. A video of one such encounter, which circulated on the Internet, shows a naked Mashco man brandishing a bow and arrow at a boatload of tourists. In another, the same man carries a plastic bottle of soda that he has just been given. Mostly, the Mashco approach outsiders with friendly, if skittish, curiosity, but at times they have raided local settlements to steal food. A few times, they have attacked.

The latest attack, last May, took the life of a twenty-year-old indigenous man, Leonardo Pérez, and this time the news did not subside. People from Pérez’s community wanted revenge, and the governor of Madre de Dios took the opportunity to rail about federal neglect of the area. The government needed to be seen to do something.

A few weeks later, officials announced that they were sending a team to engage with the Mashco, drawn from the Department of Native Isolated People and People in Initial Contact, a recently created sub-office of Peru’s Ministry of Culture. When I spoke to Lorena Prieto Coz, the head of the department, she emphasized that the government preferred not to interfere with isolated indigenous people, but the threat of violence had left no choice. “We didn’t initiate this contact—they did,” she said. “But it’s our responsibility to take charge of the situation.” She told me that an outpost had been set up near where the Mashco appeared, and a team from the department was going soon. She invited me to accompany them.

Only about a hundred groups of isolated indigenous people are believed to still exist, with more than half of them living in the wilderness that straddles Peru’s border with Brazil. Fiona Watson, the field director of the tribal-people’s-rights group Survival International, told me that the situation was dire for the region’s aislados, as isolated people are called in Spanish. In a cramped London office, Watson laid out satellite maps to show me their territory, small patches in a geography overtaken by commerce: arcs of slash-and-burn farmland; huge expanses where agribusinesses raise cattle and grow soy; mining camps that send minerals to China; migrant boomtowns. Some of the indigenous groups were hemmed in on all sides by mining and logging concessions, both legal and illegal. One tribe in Brazil, the Akuntsu, had been reduced to four members. Near them, a man known to anthropologists only as the Man of the Hole lives in a hollow dug in the forest floor, warding off intruders by firing arrows. He is believed to be the last of his tribe.

Unless the trends were halted, Watson said, the Mashco Piro and the other remaining aislados were doomed to extinction—a disquieting echo of the situation of Native Americans in the nineteenth century, as white settlers forced them to retreat or die. “There’s so much at stake here,” Watson said. “These people are as much a part of the rich tapestry of humanity as anyone else, but it’s all going down the drain.”

In the late nineteen-seventies, I made several trips into the Peruvian Amazon, at a time when the jungle was just beginning to open. The governments of Brazil and Peru had recently agreed to build a trans-Amazonian highway, linking the Atlantic and the Pacific, but, aside from some muddy unfinished tracks, the Peruvians’ efforts had been defeated by the “green hell” of the rain forest. The backwoods remained inhabited only by animals and by native people, who in those days were still referred to as “wild Indians.”

On one such trip, in 1977, I travelled up the Río Callería, near the unmarked Brazilian border, with a local guide who spoke a few indigenous dialects. We rode in a long wooden dugout canoe known as a peke-peke, its name derived from the sputtering noise of its motor, a Briggs & Stratton outboard. The motor had a propeller that could be raised—essential in shallow waters. Even so, there were stretches where we were forced to get out and pull the canoe by hand.

One day, after hours on the river with no sign of human habitation, we rounded a bend and saw a dugout canoe, carrying a woman and a child, both with long black hair and naked torsos. At the sight of us, they began screaming and paddling frantically toward the riverbank, where a row of crude shelters sat on a bluff that was cleared of jungle. They shouted a word over and over: pishtaco.

We came ashore cautiously, pulling the boat. The camp had been hastily deserted; I found a fish still roasting on an open fire. The boatman nervously said that we should not continue upriver, or the Indians might attack us. When I asked him about the word the woman and child had shouted, he said that they believed I was a pishtaco, an evil person who had come to steal the oil from their bodies.

Months later, a Peruvian anthropologist explained to me the roots of their fear. The term pishtaco, he speculated, originated in the sixteenth century, when Spanish conquistadors such as Lope de Aguirre began exploring the Amazon. These initial contacts had been so nightmarish as to inspire a cautionary tale that still endured: some of the Spaniards, frustrated that their muskets and cannons rusted so quickly in the jungle humidity, were said to have killed Indians and boiled their bodies in iron pots, then used their fat to grease the metal.

For the next three hundred years, the European settlers and their descendants made few inroads into the Amazon. Then rubber was discovered, and, in the eighteen-seventies, South American rubber barons began to brutalize the jungles of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. In 1910, the Anglo-Irish diplomat Roger Casement spent three months among rubber traders and the indigenous people who were forced to work for them, and wrote of the abuses he had witnessed. “These [people] are not only murdered, flogged, chained up like wild beasts, hunted far and wide and their dwellings burnt, their wives raped, their children dragged away to slavery and outrage, but are shamelessly swindled into the bargain. These are strong words, but not adequately strong. The condition of things is the most disgraceful, the most lawless, the most inhuman, I believe that exists in the world today.”

The caucheros, as the rubber barons were called, were daring, ruthless men— the equivalent, in a sense, of modern-day narco-traffickers like El Chapo Guzmán. The most murderously flamboyant of them was probably Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald. Immortalized in Werner Herzog’s 1982 film “Fitzcarraldo,” he was a man of limitless ambition who bloodily installed himself as Peru’s Rey del Caucho—the Rubber King.

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In London’s Epping Forest, a scientist named Merlin eavesdrops on trees’ underground conversations.

Epping Forest is a heavily regulated place. First designated as a royal hunting ground by Henry II in the twelfth century, with severe penalties imposed on commoners for poaching, it has since 1878 been managed by the City of London Corporation, which governs behavior within its bounds using forty-eight bylaws. The forest is today almost completely contained within the M25, the notorious orbital motorway that encircles outer London. Minor roads crisscross it, and it is rarely more than four kilometres wide. Several of its hundred or so lakes and ponds are former blast holes of the V1 “doodlebug” rockets flung at London in 1944. Yet the miraculous fact of Epping’s existence remains: almost six thousand acres of trees, heath, pasture, and waterways, just outside the city limits, its grassland still grazed by the cattle of local commoners, and adders still basking in its glades. Despite its mixed-amenity use—from golf to mountain biking—it retains a greenwood magic.

Earlier this summer I spent two days there, wandering and talking with a young plant scientist named Merlin Sheldrake. Sheldrake is an expert in mycorrhizal fungi, and as such he is part of a research revolution that is changing the way we think about forests. For centuries, fungi were widely held to be harmful to plants, parasites that cause disease and dysfunction. More recently, it has become understood that certain kinds of common fungi exist in subtle symbiosis with plants, bringing about not infection but connection. These fungi send out gossamer-fine fungal tubes called hyphae, which infiltrate the soil and weave into the tips of plant roots at a cellular level. Roots and fungi combine to form what is called a mycorrhiza: itself a growing-together of the Greek words for fungus (mykós) and root (riza). In this way, individual plants are joined to one another by an underground hyphal network: a dazzlingly complex and collaborative structure that has become known as the Wood Wide Web.

The relationship between these mycorrhizal fungi and the plants they connect is now known to be ancient (around four hundred and fifty million years old) and largely one of mutualism—a subset of symbiosis in which both organisms benefit from their association. In the case of the mycorrhizae, the fungi siphon off food from the trees, taking some of the carbon-rich sugar that they produce during photosynthesis. The plants, in turn, obtain nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen that the fungi have acquired from the soil, by means of enzymes that the trees do not possess.

The implications of the Wood Wide Web far exceed this basic exchange of goods between plant and fungi, however. The fungal network also allows plants to distribute resources—sugar, nitrogen, and phosphorus—between one another. A dying tree might divest itself of its resources to the benefit of the community, for example, or a young seedling in a heavily shaded understory might be supported with extra resources by its stronger neighbors. Even more remarkably, the network also allows plants to send one another warnings. A plant under attack from aphids can indicate to a nearby plant that it should raise its defensive response before the aphids reach it. It has been known for some time that plants communicate above ground in comparable ways, by means of airborne hormones. But such warnings are more precise in terms of source and recipient when sent by means of the myco-net.

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New study provides one of the strongest cases yet that the planet has entered a new geological epoch

There is now compelling evidence to show that humanity’s impact on the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and wildlife has pushed the world into a new geological epoch, according to a group of scientists.

The question of whether humans’ combined environmental impact has tipped the planet into an “Anthropocene” – ending the current Holocene which began around 12,000 years ago – will be put to the geological body that formally approves such time divisions later this year.

The new study provides one of the strongest cases yet that from the amount of concrete mankind uses in building to the amount of plastic rubbish dumped in the oceans, Earth has entered a new geological epoch.

“We could be looking here at a stepchange from one world to another that justifies being called an epoch,” said Dr Colin Waters, principal geologist at the British Geological Survey and an author on the study published in Science on Thursday.

“What this paper does is to say the changes are as big as those that happened at the end of the last ice age. This is a big deal.”

geology graphic

He said that the scale and rate of change on measures such as CO2 and methane concentrations in the atmosphere were much larger and faster than the changes that defined the start of the holocene.

Humans have introduced entirely novel changes, geologically speaking, such as the roughly 300m metric tonnes of plastic produced annually. Concrete has become so prevalent in construction that more than half of all the concrete ever used was produced in the past 20 years.

Wildlife, meanwhile, is being pushed into an ever smaller area of the Earth, with just 25% of ice-free land considered wild now compared to 50% three centuries ago. As a result, rates of extinction of species are far above long-term averages.

But the study says perhaps the clearest fingerprint humans have left, in geological terms, is the presence of isotopes from nuclear weapons testing that took place in the 1950s and 60s.

“Potentially the most widespread and globally synchronous Anthropogenic signal is the fallout from nuclear weapons testing,” the paper says.

“It’s probably a good candidate [for a single line of evidence to justify a new epoch] … we can recognise it in glacial ice, so if an ice core was taken from Greenland, we could say that’s where it [the start of the Anthropocene] was defined,” Waters said.

The study says that accelerating technological change, and a growth in population and consumption have driven the move into the Anthropocene, which advocates of the concept suggest started around the middle of the 20th century.

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Black and Green Review is a U.S magazine that is the most recent project of John Zerzan and Kevin Tucker. Mr. Zerzan needs no introduction in anti-civ circles as he is, after Uncle Ted (Kaczynski) the best known theorist in the world in this school of thought. Kevin Tucker is less well-known, but he is a writer who works with Zerzan on publications such as Green Anarchy from last decade, but also on his own projects such as Species Traitor which was a magazine along the lines of the current Black and Green Review: more of a book than a magazine with various articles from different authors. As a magazine, Black and Green Review is physically very well made, with various sections of short and long articles, and it is a little over two hundred pages long.

Black and Green Review comes out twice a year from the United States. We are not going to explain how we got a copy on this side of the border but we did and we read it. We are not going to review the whole magazine (or small book) either. We are going to look at the most important articles and offer the eco-extremist point of view, especially from the view of what was ancient Mesoamerica. Even though we have harsh criticisms of this magazine, we appreciate the opportunity to discuss its content.

The first article we will discuss is our favorite (though it is one of the shorter ones) on the topic of the  mosquito. Here we translate a bit to share with Spanish-speaking readers some of the quite informative content of this article:

“One fault humankind suffers from is that we don’t see any species as beneficial if we can’t exploit them. This is especially true for a species that causes us great grief. Evolutionary ecologist Dina Fonseca at Rutgers University points this out perfectly as she compares the situation to biting midges in the family Ceratopogonidae, also known to many as No-see-ums. ‘People being bitten by no-see-ums or being infected through them with viruses, protozoa and filarial worms would love to eradicate them,’ she says. But because some ceratopogonids are pollinators of tropical crops such as cacao, ‘that would result in a world without chocolate.’

To end this I want to mention one very obvious point: we created this monster. The disease-carrying mosquito is our Creature and we their Frankenstein. With human caused climate instability comes imbalances throughout the world. Insect populations go up when temperatures rise. Deforestation and the eradication of species and predators lead to ecological changes along with the release of dormant viruses. Collective immunity suffers from human ‘progress’. We all get sick. Mosquitoes are vectors of disease, not the cause. Mosquitoes are just one of the five major modes of disease transmission amplified by globalization. We don’t recognize how reckless we’ve become, blinded by ego and acting as gods we have forgotten that with cause there is effect.”

The explanation of the symbiotic relationship between the mosquito and its environment is an important point, and this shows that U.S. anarcho-primitivism can go beyond its typical anthropocentrism. Perhaps we will translate this whole article sometime in the future and reproduce it in another place.

We also imagine that the interviews with the lawyer for eco-radical activists and an interview with an ex-prisoner would be really helpful to eco-radicals on that side of the border. Our friend, “Halputta Hadjo” has already presented the eco-extremist critique of the interview with the Zerzan-adhering eco-radicals in Canada in his article on the Calusa, and we don’t have anything to add here.

Moving on then to the “major articles” of the magazine, some are worthy of extensive commentary. We begin with the article by “Four Legged-Human” with the title, “The Wind Roars Ferociously: Feral Foundations and the Necessity of Wild Resistance.” The setting of this article is the harsh territories of the northern state of Alaska in the United States. The article attempts to develop the theme of domestication and dependence that creates civilized humans, especially involving domestication in the universal failure of the Left in the modern world. It also aims to present resistance as a process of un-domesticating and fleeing civilization for remote places. In this sense, the anarcho-primitivists seek to imitate the “Arrow People” who still dwell in the Amazonian region, as he writes:

“It has been estimated that today in the last primal vestiges of the Brazilian Amazon exist up to 43 uncontacted tribes. Indios Bravos or The Arrow People. Often characterized  as ‘uncontacted,’ the more likely reality is that these Amazonian bands consciously choose to live in isolation and evade interaction precisely due to a deep intergenerational knowledge of the calamitous consequences associated with their ancestors and their neighboring indigenous brethren becoming domesticated and civilized:

‘Willful determination, or rather self-determination… seems to attend all the isolated tribes still roaming the forests of the Amazon… Indigenous groups living in isolation are isolated because they choose to be. It’s not for complete lack of contact, but precisely because previous experiences of contact with the outside world proved so negative.’”

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El hallazgo de una guacamaya momificada, así como restos de ropa, semillas y puntas de flechas, en una cueva del municipio de San Francisco Borja, Chihuahua, abrió una ventana en el tiempo para conocer lo que parece ser una sociedad arcaica que vivió hace aproximadamente 2 mil años.

Los materiales se van a analizar para precisar su antigüedad, pero el tipo de objetos asociados a la domesticación de plantas cultivables permite pensar que pertenecían a un pueblo en transición entre la vida nómada y la sedentaria, informó en entrevista exclusiva con la prensa el arqueólogo Emiliano Gallaga Murrieta, responsable del rescate y director de la Escuela de Antropología e Historia del Norte de México (EAHNM), del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH).

“¿Por qué decimos que es un grupo arcaico tardío que estaba cambiando de cazador-recolector a pueblo agricultor? Porque encontramos semillas de cinco tipos de frijoles, una calabaza y mazorcas de maíz arcaicas, con olotes muy pequeños. No tenemos material característico de otros grupos sedentarios que definitivamente ya eran agricultores”, indicó.

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