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Tagged with “long now” (97)

  1. Languages on the Brink – Can technology save our endangered languages?

    We can now record the world’s languages at an unprecedented rate, precisely at the moment they are most threatened. What does the future hold for language in the age of digital tech? At Melbourne Knowledge Week 2018, linguist and international guest of the festival Laura Welcher (The Long Now Foundation), Nick Thieberger (Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures) and Paul Paton (First Languages Australia) get together to discuss the future of language preservation. Date recorded: 7/5/2018

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    Original video: https://soundcloud.com/knowledgemelbourne/languages-on-the-brink-can-technology-save-our-endangered-languages
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Thu, 09 Aug 2018 20:22:21 GMT Available for 30 days after download

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  2. Chris D. Thomas: Are We Initiating The Great Anthropocene Speciation Event? - The Long Now

    The bad news (not news to most): Many wild species are under severe duress.

    The good news (total news to most): “Nature is thriving in an age of extinction.”

    Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Chris Thomas has examined a little-noticed phenomenon around the world, that as an unintentional byproduct of massive human impact, biodiversity is increasing in pretty much every region of the world. Evolution has sped up. Wild populations are on the move, sometimes in response to climate change, often hitch-hiking on us. Hybridization is rampant, leading at times to whole new species. The Anthropocene, evidently, is a mass speciation event.

    An ardent conservationist, Thomas makes the case that conservation efforts are far more effective when we acknowledge—and study— what nature is really up to, and work with it.

    Chris Thomas is a professor in the Department of Biology at the University of York in England and author of Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction (02017).

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02018/jun/19/are-we-initiating-great-anthropocene-speciation-event/

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  3. Stewart Brand on the Whole Earth Catalog’s Long Legacy over 50 years

    Original video: http://reinvent.net/events/event/stewart-brand-on-the-whole-earth-catalogs-long-legacy-over-50-years/
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Fri, 22 Jun 2018 02:05:03 GMT Available for 30 days after download

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  4. 99% Invisible: Ten Thousand Years

    https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/ten-thousand-years/

    In 1990, the federal government invited a group of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers to the New Mexico desert, to visit the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. They would be there on assignment.

    The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is the nation’s only permanent underground repository for nuclear waste. Radioactive byproducts from nuclear weapons manufacturing and nuclear power plants. WIPP was designed not only to handle a waste stream of various forms of nuclear sludge, but also more mundane things that interacted with radioactive materials, such as tools and gloves.

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  5. The Vault - 99% Invisible

    Svalbard is a remote Norwegian archipelago with reindeer, Arctic foxes and only around 2,500 humans — but it is also home to a vault containing seeds for virtually every edible plant one can imagine. The mountainside Crop Trust facility has thousands of varieties of corn, rice and more, serving as a seed backup for humanity. For each crop, there’s an envelope with 500 seeds.

    This featured episode explores an unusual reserve of invaluable resources. It is designed to be egalitarian, beyond everyday politics and international strife. Any nation can store seeds in the vault for free, making the vault a sort of world peace zone. South Korea’s seeds sit next to North Korea’s. Ukraine’s are right next to Russia’s. Protecting our food supply is one thing the whole world can get behind.

    The vault’s origins start with one man during World War II — a global existential crisis if ever there was one. His name was Nikolay Vavilov and he lived in what was then the Soviet Union. He grew up during some intense famines in eastern Europe, and he was determined to never let them happen again. As Vavilov began his work as a botanist during the 1920s, he developed an idea: maybe collecting the seeds, and understanding how crop diversity across the world works, could help to fight off crop failures and to prevent famines. Vavilov and a team began gathering hundreds of thousands of different kinds of seeds from 64 countries during more than 100 expeditions.

    Vavilov’s team continued his mission through the siege of Leningrad, which lasted almost two and a half years. More than a million people died — half of them from starvation alone. They persisted even when they were starving and the seeds they were protecting could have saved their lives. In total, twelve scientists perished protecting seeds. Vavilov himself starved to death in prison. But the seeds survived.

    The Svalbard vault is a direct descendant of this legacy, and the building in St. Petersburg where Vavilov first began his work is now the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry.

    The First Withdrawal

    ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas) facility in SyriaThe Svalbard Global Seed Vault may be the most famous such facility in the world, but it is not the only one. 99pi producer Emmett Fitzgerald looked into another seed bank in Syria, run by the organization ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas). He spoke with the former director Mahmoud Solh. Like Nikolai Vavilov, when Dr. Solh was a young plant scientist he set off on his own seed collecting journey. He made his way through Central Asian countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan.

    Dr. Solh drove all over Afghanistan in a Jeep looking for wild lentils and chickpeas. The seeds he gathered were the beginning of the ICARDA collection. ICARDA stores seeds and breeds plants that can help farmers in dry parts of the world. They have one of the world’s largest collections of drought tolerant seeds, including thousands of varieties of barley, lentil, and fava beans.

    English: Formerly located just outside of Aleppo, Syria, ICARDA left its headquarters due to the war and re-established sites in Lebanon and Morocco. (J.Owens/VOA)For years this collection was stored in a facility in Aleppo, Syria, but when the violence in that country broke out in 2011 the plant scientists started to get worried about their seeds, and so they sent seeds to other seed banks around the world before they were forced to leave Aleppo.

    Cary Fowler, the founder of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, ended up calling Dr. Solh and inviting him to store some ICARDA seeds up in the Norwegian Arctic. “We got them up to Svalbard,” he recalls, “and when it became clear that those researchers were not going to be able to go back to their institution and they had re-established themselves in Morocco and Lebanon … they asked for their seed collection back so they could re-establish their seed bank.”

    ICARDA seeds in storage at the Svalbard Global Seed VaultThis was the first time that anyone had taken seeds back out of Svalbard, and they used those seeds that had been stored in Svalbard to create two new seed banks, one in Morocco and one in Lebanon. Cary Fowler says this shows that the seed vault can function like a back-up hard drive. And he points out that when it comes to our food supply, the risk of not having good backup is really high. “In the past this would this kind of event would likely have led to extinction. And in this case I think it’s pretty clear that that would be the extinction of something terribly valuable to world agriculture … because in the future you can imagine that drought- and heat-tolerant varieties of wheat, barley … lentils … chickpeas  and such are going to be in high demand.”

    https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-vault/

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  6. Allusionist 42+43. Survival: The Key rerun — The Allusionist

    To accompany the current Allusionist miniseries Survival, about minority languages facing suppression and extinction, we’re revisiting this double bill of The Key episodes about why languages die and how they can be resuscitated. The Rosetta Stone and its modern equivalent the Rosetta Disk preserve writing systems to be read by future generations. But how do those generations decipher text that wasn’t written with the expectation of requiring decipherment? Features mild scenes of linguistic apocalypse.

    https://www.theallusionist.org/survival-key

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  7. Michael Frachetti: Open Source Civilization and the Unexpected Origins of the Silk Road - The Long Now

    Travel the ancient Silk Road with an archaeologist researching a revolutionary idea.

    Nomadic pastoralists, far from being irrelevant outliers, may have helped shape civilizations at continental scale. Drawing on his exciting field work, Michael Frachetti shows how alternative ways of conceptualizing the very essence of the word “civilization” helps us to recast our understanding of regional political economies through time and discover the unexpected roots and formation of one of the world’s most extensive and long-standing social and economic networks – the Silk Road that connected Asia to Europe.

    Archaeologist Michael Frachetti is an Associate Professor with the Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis and author of Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia (02008).

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02018/feb/26/open-source-civilization-unexpected-origins-silk-road/

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  8. Steven Pinker: A New Enlightenment - The Long Now

    The Enlightenment worked, says Steven Pinker. By promoting reason, science, humanism, progress, and peace, the programs set in motion by the 18th-Century intellectual movement became so successful we’ve lost track of what that success came from.

    Some even discount the success itself, preferring to ignore or deny how much better off humanity keeps becoming, decade after decade, in terms of health, food, money, safety, education, justice, and opportunity. The temptation is to focus on the daily news, which is often dire, and let it obscure the long term news, which is shockingly good.

    This is the 21st Century, not the 18th, with different problems and different tools. What are Enlightenment values and programs for now?

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02018/mar/13/new-enlightenment/

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  9. Charles C. Mann: The Wizard and the Prophet - The Long Now

    Two ways to save humanity

    Mann titled his talk “The Edge of the Petri Dish.”

    He explained, “If you drop a couple protozoa in a Petri dish filled with nutrient goo, they will multiply until they run out of resources or drown in their own wastes.”

    Humans in the world Petri dish appear to be similarly doomed, judging by our exponential increases in population, energy use, water use, income, and greenhouse gases.

    How to save humanity?

    Opposing grand approaches emerged from two remarkable scientists in the mid-20th century who fought each other their entire lives.

    Their solutions were so persuasive that their impassioned argument continues 70 years later to dominate how we think about dealing with the still-exacerbating exponential impacts.

    Norman Borlaug, the one Mann calls “the Wizard,” was a farm kid trained as a forester.

    In 1944 he found himself in impoverished Mexico with an impossible task—solve the ancient fungal killer of wheat, rust.

    First he invented high-volume crossbreeding, then shuttle breeding (between winter wheat and spring wheat), and then semi-dwarf wheat.

    The resulting package of hybrid seeds, synthetic fertilizer, and irrigation became the Green Revolution that ended most of hunger throughout the world for the first time in history.

    There were costs.

    The diversity of crops went down.

    Excess fertilizer became a pollutant.

    Agriculture industrialized at increasing scale, and displaced smallhold farmers fled to urban slums.

    William Vogt, who Mann calls “the Prophet,” was a poor city kid who followed his interest in birds to become an isolated researcher on the revolting guano islands of Peru.

    He discovered that periodic massive bird die-offs on the islands were caused by the El Niño cycle pushing the Humboldt Current with its huge load of anchovetas away from the coast and starving the birds.

    The birds were, Vogt declared, subject to an inescapable “carrying capacity.“

    That became the foundational idea of the environmental movement, later expressed in terms such as “limits to growth,” “ecological overshoot,” and “planetary boundaries.”

    Vogt spelled out the worldview in his powerful 1948 book, The Road to Survival.

    The Prophets-versus-Wizards debate keeps on raging—artisanal organic farming versus factory-like mega-farms; distributed solar energy versus centralized fossil fuel refineries and nuclear power plants; dealing with climate change by planting a zillion trees versus geoengineering with aerosols in the stratosphere.

    The question continues: How do we best manage our world Petri dish?

    Restraint?

    Or innovation?

    Can humanity change its behavior at planet scale?

    Mann ended by pointing out that in 1800 slavery was universal in the world and had been throughout history.

    Then it ended.

    How?

    Prophets say that morally committed abolitionists did it.

    Wizards say that clever labor-saving machinery did it.

    Maybe it was the combination.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02018/jan/22/wizard-and-prophet/

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  10. Stewart Brand – The Polymath of Polymaths | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

    Stewart Brand (@stewartbrand) is the president of The Long Now Foundation, established to foster long-term thinking and responsibility. He leads a project called Revive & Restore, which seeks to bring back extinct animal species such as the passenger pigeon and woolly mammoth.

    Stewart is very well known for founding, editing, and publishing The Whole Earth Catalog (WEC), which changed my life when I was a little kid. It also received a national book award for its 1972 issue.

    Stewart is the co-founder of The WELL and The Global Business Network, and author of Whole Earth Discipline, The Clock Of The Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab. He was trained in biology at Stanford and served as an infantry officer in the US Army.

    https://tim.blog/2017/11/21/stewart-brand/

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