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Earth Island JournalEarth Island Journal

Earth Island Journal

Winter 2020

Earth Island Journal is a publication in the field of news and society offering news and analysis about energy and the environment

Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Earth Island Institute
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4 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

2 min.
in community lies our strength

My letters to you, dear reader, are always the last thing I write for the issue before it is sent off to the printer. And when I say last, I mean, literally a middle-of-the-night, few hours-before-deadline coalescing of months of thinking on the package of features, news reports, and dispatches that we put together for each print issue. This time round, my thoughts have been especially scattered. Frayed by the cynical politicking on display at the ongoing impeachment hearings in the US House of Representatives. Distracted by the police siege on pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong; by the attempts to violently repress the people’s uprising against inequality in Chile; by the opposing factions clashing over the coup in Bolivia; and by the routine, everyday abuse of power I see all around…

1 min.
earth island journal

EDITOR Maureen Nandini Mitra maureenmitra@earthisland.org MANAGING EDITOR Zoe Loftus-Farren zloftus@earthisland.org COPY EDITOR Catherine Carlstroem ART DIRECTOR Lilli Keinaenen lilli@changemakercreative.com INTERN Arrieanna Towner EDITOR EMERITUS Gar Smith SUBSCRIPTION is a benefit of membership in Earth Island Institute. Send $25.00 US to: Earth Island Institute David Brower Center 2150 Allston Way, Suite 460 Berkeley, CA 94704 USA FOR MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION AND ADDRESS CHANGES: Kim Picone kimpicone@earthisland.org 510-859-9123…

2 min.
letters & emails

A Clear and Present Danger I read with interest your recent issue entitled Man/Machine/Nature (Autumn 2019) addressing our fraught relationship with technology. I would like to draw attention to a pernicious link between technology and neoliberal market ideology that puts many of our natural resources, particularly forests, at risk. The global community has long recognized that ecosystem services sustain the foundations of our post-industrial society. This has inspired innovative thinking about environmental policy, paving the way to approaches such as payment for ecosystem services, whereby nature is treated like any other commodity exchangeable on markets. In this regard, purchasing the carbon sequestration “services” of trees guarantees their conservation, an approach that has gained political traction but that renders natural resources vulnerable to new technologies. In particular, to base a forest biome’s conservation on…

2 min.
the mass species swap

ICYMI: We’re in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, and we humans are responsible. If it sounds bad, that’s because it is. Earlier this year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released a dire report clarifying the extent of this planetary crisis. Around one million species of plants and animals on Earth face extinction — an unprecedented loss scientists and activists are racing to curb. Now it appears that changes in biodiversity over time are a lot more complicated than we thought. The findings of a new study, published in Science, indicate that at the local level, the actual number of species in a place are holding steady or even going up. So, what’s going on? It turns out that every decade or so, almost 30 percent of…

1 min.
a weighty issue

Microplastics, it seems, are pretty much everywhere these days. They’re in our water, our air, and yes, our soils. And evidence of potential repercussions is mounting, including for the humble earthworm. New research indicates that worms in microplastic-polluted soils don’t do as well as their non-plastic-ingesting relatives. Specifically, scientists found that worms in soil contaminated with high density polyethylene (HDPE), which is commonly used to make bags and bottles, lost 3 percent of their body weight over 30 days, while worms in HDPE-free soil gained 5 percent of their body weight over the same amount of time. The researchers aren’t entirely sure how microplastics contribute to weight loss, but suspect it could be related to digestion, including, as Bas Boots, lecturer in biology at England’s Anglia Ruskin University and lead author of…

1 min.
the cost of enlightenment

For centuries, ayahuasca, a psychotropic plant brew, has been central to shamanic rituals across much of South America’s rainforest region. Today, it’s a life-altering, mind-opening trip that’s sought out by thousands of tourists chasing the holy grail of highs, one that’s turned a traditional Amazonian healing ceremony into a booming industry. Ayahuasca tourism has been criticized on many levels. The tea’s main ingredients, the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and chacruna leaves (Psychotria viridis) are now wildly over-harvested, destabilizing an already fragile Amazon ecosystem. And of course, the whole practice smacks of Westerners appropriating — and commodifying — the spiritual practices of other cultures, yet again. As Mongabay reports, there’s another reason to be wary: it turns out that commercialized ayahuasca tourism is a driver of trade of jaguar body parts. Recent research,…