Half of World Heritage Glacier Sites May Be Gone by 2100


Click to enlargeJungfrauMartin Price

❝ Glaciers are set to disappear completely from almost half of World Heritage sites if business-as-usual emissions continue, according to the first-ever global study of World Heritage glaciers.

The sites are home to some of the world’s most iconic glaciers, such as Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas, and Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae…

❝ The study in the AGU journal Earth’s Future…combines data from a global glacier inventory, a review of existing literature and sophisticated computer modeling to analyze the current state of World Heritage glaciers, their recent evolution, and their projected mass change over the 21st century.

I spent some truly enjoyable time camped on the climbing approaches to the Jungfrau decades ago. Now, I wish I’d kept the photos I took. I never thought I’d be witnessing the early stages of the death of so much natural beauty at the hands of corporate carbon profiteers and their political pimps.

Trump’s ignorance is costing the U.S. billion$ in foreign investment


The cult of Trump

❝ Beyond the cost of President Trump’s trade war with longtime US friends and rivals, his policy of economic nationalism has taken a toll in another important sphere: Net inward investment into the United States by multinational corporations—both foreign and American—has fallen almost to zero. As I pointed out in a posting in Foreign Affairs this month, this shift of corporate investment away from the United States will decrease long-term US income growth, reduce the number of well-paid jobs available, and accelerate the shift of global commerce away from the United States.

❝ A few months ago, I developed in Foreign Affairs the potential emergence of a post-American world economy resulting from Trump’s aggressive bilateral bullying and abandonment of the rules-based international economic order. Today this post-American economic world, one where all investment is more uncertain and politicized—because the US government acts toward businesses as any self-enriching autocracy would—is increasingly on its way. That is apparent in business decisions about large, long-term investments, such as the building of major production facilities; foreign takeovers of, and mergers with, US companies; and investment in research facilities and workers.

Any time I note an upcoming appearance by Adam Posen on Bloomberg TV I try to remember to set the DVR to record. Often, he’s on Tom Keene’s Surveillance early morning show. That’s early morning in NYC – 2 time zones ahead of northern New Mexico. Fortunately, the Bloomberg folks are pretty smart about recognizing demand for top-shelf economists and the analysis they provide – and snip and save those episodes for their app.

Playing the trading game is too much work for an old geek retiree like me. But, I never intend to stop learning about the world around us and he’s a helluva source on the economics side.

Unsustainable practices are destroying whole ecosystems – finfish species disappearing


Mangrove red snapperDaniela Dirscher/WaterFrame

Fifty-nine finfish species have ‘disappeared’ from fishermen’s catches in the world’s most species rich and vulnerable marine region…

In the largest study of its kind, experts from Newcastle University, UK, have highlighted the impact that uncontrolled fishing in particular is having on coral reefs.

Drawing on the knowledge of local fishermen in the Philippines, the team were able to build a picture of how finfish populations have declined over the last 65 years.

Recording 59 species that were once common and have now disappeared from catches, the team highlighted five finfish that are now fighting for survival — the green bumphead parrotfish, the humphead wrasse, the African pompano, the giant grouper and the mangrove red snapper. Publishing their findings this week in the science journal PLOS ONE, the report coincides with Endangered Species Day and highlights the “urgent need for action”.

Lead scientist Nick Polunin, Professor or Environmental Science at Newcastle University, explains: “Most of us still think that nature is unlimited in the oceans.”…”But our coral reefs are good sentinels of global ocean change, and like the canary in the coal mine, they’re telling us there’s not much time left for action.

“These losses we’ve recorded in the Philippines are reflective of unsustainable exploitation affecting this exceptionally species rich ecosystem and region but they mirror what is happening in ecosystems around the globe.

The researchers hope this evidence will provoke action by politicians in charge of legislatures around the world. Regulation and management practices need to be instituted to protect a global food sources from death by overuse and abuse.

More than evidence is needed to move most elected officials.

Language about to die out – the last two speakers aren’t talking


Manuel Segovia

The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it’s at risk of extinction.

There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other’s company.

They don’t have a lot in common,” says Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, who is involved with a project to produce a dictionary of Ayapaneco. Segovia, he says, can be “a little prickly” and Velazquez, who is “more stoic,” rarely likes to leave his home.

The dictionary is part of a race against time to revitalise the language before it is definitively too late. “When I was a boy everybody spoke it,” Segovia told the Guardian by phone. “It’s disappeared little by little, and now I suppose it might die with me.”

Segovia, who denied any active animosity with Velazquez, retained the habit of speaking Ayapaneco by conversing with his brother until he died about a decade ago. Segovia still uses it with his son and wife who understand him, but cannot produce more than a few words themselves. Velazquez reputedly does not regularly talk to anybody in his native tongue anymore.

Suslak says Ayapaneco has always been a “linguistic island” surrounded by much stronger indigenous languages.

Its demise was sealed by the advent of education in Spanish in the mid 20th century, which for several decades included the explicit prohibition on indigenous children speaking anything else. Urbanisation and migration from the 1970s then ensured the break-up of the core group of speakers concentrated in the village. “It’s a sad story,” says Suslak, “but you have to be really impressed by how long it has hung around…”

The name Ayapaneco is an imposition by outsiders, and Segovia and Velazquez call their language Nuumte Oote, which means the True Voice. They speak different versions of this truth and tend to disagree over details, which doesn’t help their relationship. The dictionary, which is due out later this year, will contain both versions.

I’m of the opinion there needs to be a certain minimum of community and voluntary continuing of that community for a language to last, to sustain something beyond history, record.

Though I oppose the imposition of a majority language – as was done with English here in Spanish-speaking communities, with speakers of Native American languages and African slaves speaking Gullah and Geechee – I think the culture of the society predominant in commerce and entertainment will prevail. Inevitably.

Regardless, the record must be kept. It is a contribution to ethnology, the history of communities that preceded whatever we become next.

Thanks, Cinaedh

Pic of the Day


Liu Bolin’s amazing camouflage artwork

At first glance, this may look like a photograph of shelves in a supermarket. But look more closely and you may see a man painstakingly painted to blend in with the colourful background. Chinese artist Liu Bolin has become world renowned for his camouflage art. Liu uses a team of two assistants to paint the camouflage onto him to make him invisible, and each photograph can take up to ten hours to set up. In some cases, Liu has his assistants paint his body and then he remains extremely still until an unsuspecting passer-by happens to walk past.

Click on the photo to see a photo gallery of his work.

Condi Rice says Russia will become isolated, irrelevant

Russia’s policies are putting it on a path to isolation and irrelevance says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Russia’s invasion of Georgia was a “critical moment for Russia and the world,” Condoleezza Rice says.

Even though Georgia invaded South Ossetia.

Rice also said that Moscow’s other behavior, including using oil and gas as a weapon, threatening countries with nuclear attack, selling arms to rogue states and political persecution of journalists and dissidents, paints a picture of “a Russia increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad.”

Her comments came in a moment of forgetfulness of American history since the Monroe Doctrine.

You can RTFA if you want the details of her petty foot-stamping. I posted this only because the headline is a chuckle.

In a few more months, Condi Rice will become even more isolated, irrelevant.