Ecology and Architecture: the Design of the Environment for Human Survival

Ecological problems of civilization have not lost their relevance since the twentieth century. Methods of their solution is limited to a one-sided view of the situation, which does not allow changing it radically. Consideration of the system of knowledge in the context of the transformation and the transition to a new type of network society provides an opportunity to rethink the very way of human existence, which is directly reflected in the concept of a contemporary city. Modern society is moving towards a network-based, horizontal distribution of knowledge, which is both the cause of the actualization of the environmental problems of the city and the way to solve them.

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Posted in Architecture, Ecology | Tagged ,

EcoPhilosophies: Shades of Green

Continuums allow us to map where we have been, where we are currently located and where we are heading. On the Shades of Green continuum, I locate anthropocentric and ecocentric philosophies in five clusters distinguished by the value placed on relationality with nature: Utilitarianism, Conservationism, Green Ecology, Organicism and Regeneration. Increasing depth of empathy, unity and connectedness to place characterize ecocentric philosophies. Philosophies about nature inform our environmental ethics, environmental adult education, eco-activism and our lifeways; therefore, they are highly relevant to our response to the crisis of climate change. Our response to climate change is symptomatic of deep failures in our way of thinking, being and living. The purpose of this study is to catalyze new ways of thinking about nature, about ourselves as nature and about planet earth as home.

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What biodiversity loss means for our health

Among the great lies, I learned in medical school was that a human being was the product of a sperm and an egg. Yes, these gametes are necessary, but they are hardly sufficient to create and sustain human life. Each one of us stays alive only with the help of trillions of other organisms – the human microbiome – that live on and in every surface of our body exposed to the outside world. Of all the cells that comprise a human body, only two-thirds derive from a sperm and an egg. We can see inklings of what a massive disruption to our relationship with the microorganisms that live within us means to health with the overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotic disruption can foster antimicrobial resistance, weight gain, autoimmune disease, and even perhaps mental health disorders.

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Posted in Biodiversity, Health | Tagged ,

The Hidden Power Laws of Ecosystems

As nature scales, complexity gives way to universal law.

Here’s how to cause a ruckus: Ask a bunch of naturalists to simplify the world. We usually think in terms of a web of complicated interactions among animals, plants, microbes, earth, wind, and fire—what Darwin called “the entangled bank.” Reducing the bank’s complexity to broad generalizations can seem dishonest.

So when Tony Ives, a theoretical ecologist at the University of Wisconsin, prodded his colleagues at the 2013 meeting of the Ecological Society of America by calling for a vote on whether they ought to seek out general laws, it probably wasn’t surprising that two-thirds of the room voted no.

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Posted in Ecosystem, Nature | Tagged ,

Children can foster climate change concern among their parents

The collective action that is required to mitigate and adapt to climate change is extremely difficult to achieve, largely due to socio-ideological biases that perpetuate polarization over climate change1,2. Because climate change perceptions in children seem less susceptible to the influence of worldview or political context3, it may be possible for them to inspire adults towards higher levels of climate concern, and in turn, collective action4. Child-to-parent intergenerational learning—that is, the transfer of knowledge, attitudes or behaviors from children to parents5—may be a promising pathway to overcoming socio-ideological barriers to climate concern5. Here we present an experimental evaluation of an educational intervention designed to build climate change concern among parents indirectly through their middle school-aged children in North Carolina, USA. Parents of children in the treatment group expressed higher levels of climate change concern than parents in the control group. The effects were strongest among male parents and conservative parents, who, consistent with the previous research1, displayed the lowest levels of climate concern before the intervention. Daughters appeared to be especially effective in influencing parents. Our results suggest that intergenerational learning may overcome barriers to building climate concern.

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Posted in Children, Climate change | Tagged ,

Indigenous knowledge networks in the face of global change

Indigenous communities rely extensively on plants for food, shelter, and medicine. It is still unknown, however, to what degree their survival is jeopardized by the loss of either plant species or knowledge about their services. To fill this gap, here we introduce indigenous knowledge networks describing the wisdom of indigenous people on plant species and the services they provide. Our results across 57 Neotropical communities show that cultural heritage is as important as plants for preserving indigenous knowledge both locally and regionally. Indeed, knowledge networks collapse as fast when plant species are driven extinct as when cultural diffusion, either within or among communities, is lost. But it is the joint loss of plant species and knowledge that erodes these networks at a much higher rate. Our findings pave the road toward integrative policies that recognize more explicitly the inseparable links between cultural and biological heritage.

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Posted in Climate change, Indigenous communities, Indigenous knowledge, Sustainability | Tagged , , ,

Untapped potential of collective intelligence in conservation and environmental decision making

Environmental decisions are often deferred to groups of experts, committees, or panels to develop climate policy, plan protected areas, or negotiate trade‐offs for biodiversity conservation. There is, however, surprisingly little empirical research on the performance of group decision making related to the environment. We examined examples from a range of different disciplines, demonstrating the emergence of collective intelligence (CI) in the elicitation of quantitative estimates, crowdsourcing applications, and small‐group problem-solving. We explored the extent to which similar tools are used in environmental decision making. This revealed important gaps (e.g., a lack of integration of fundamental research in decision‐making practice, absence of systematic evaluation frameworks) that obstruct mainstreaming of CI. By making judicious use of interdisciplinary learning opportunities, CI can be harnessed effectively to improve decision making in conservation and environmental management. To elicit reliable quantitative estimates an understanding of cognitive psychology and to optimize crowdsourcing artificial intelligence tools may need to be incorporated. The business literature offers insights into the importance of soft skills and diversity in team effectiveness. Environmental problems set a challenging and rich testing ground for collective‐intelligence tools and frameworks. We argue this creates an opportunity for significant advancement in decision‐making research and practice.

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Posted in collective intelligence, Conservation, Environment | Tagged , ,

Why some conservatives are blind to climate change

Imagine this: A young professional couple at a party mentions they’re thinking of buying a home in a popular waterfront neighborhood that scientists have found is vulnerable to coastal flooding.

That flood risk is made extra clear by murals in the neighborhood marking the predicted water level rise. What’s more, media headlines have warned about sea level rise daily during the past week.

So, what gives? Can the young couple just not see the evidence in front of them?

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Posted in Climate change | Tagged

Biodiversity loss is more than an environmental problem, it is a development, economic, social and moral issue

The IPBES recently published four landmark regional assessment reports of biodiversity (ie genes, species and ecosystems). There is one each for the Americas, Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and Asia and the Pacific, and an assessment of land degradation and restoration. The findings of these assessments are based on thousands of scientific reports, as well as indigenous and local knowledge. They clearly demonstrate that biodiversity is as much development, economic, social and moral issue as an environmental issue

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Posted in Biodiversity | Tagged

What can a Green New Deal learn from other countries?

From net-zero carbon emissions to transportation fixes, some ideas in the Green New Deal have been tested abroad.

A Green New Deal is far from a sure thing. Political challenges are already growing tendrils around the proposal, and it’s not clear how its roughly-outlined plans will coalesce into specific policies. But surveys show that American voters are more concerned about climate change than ever before and that a majority of voters on both sides of the aisle support the idea of a comprehensive plan to address it.

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Posted in Green economy, Green Knowledge | Tagged ,