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Od kláštera Osek na Selesiovu výšinu, k Lomu, Libkovicům, Hrdlovce a zpět/From The Osek Cloister to Lom and back
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Real Reason we Can’t Stop Global Warming: Saskia Sassen
Saskia Sassen in her book "Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy" documents some of the fiscal and ecological woes that pave the way to the rootless state she describes. Her audit of doom includes sub-prime mortgages, land grabs, water grabs, a precious metal-extraction technique called "cyanide heap leaching", and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking". Industrial abuse has made parts of the planet from Norilsk in Russia to Times Beach, Missouri, uninhabitable. The rising sea is in even worse shape, thanks to carbon dioxide-caused acidification and nutrient pollution creating low-oxygen stretches called "dead zones". Then there are the floating garbage patches.
Saskia Sassen (1947) is a Dutch-American sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She is Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Centennial visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. Sassen coined the term global city.
There was a time when the environmental damage we produced remained somewhat localized, confined to specific places. That time is gone. Today, nonindustrial areas, such as Greenland and the Antarctic, experience the industrial pollution generated in the United States and in Russia, to mention just two countries. Damage produced in particular sites now scales up, driven by the vastness of destruction, and becomes a planetary problem that drifts back down to hit even those places that did not contribute to the damage.
Greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and particulate matter such as black carbon) are key causes of climate change. Diverse measures arrive at an estimate that human activity has generated 350 billion tonnes of carbon since 1959; 55 percent of this has been taken up by the oceans and land, and the rest has been left in the atmosphere. In 2009 alone, global carbon dioxide emissions totaled 30 billion tonnes. By 2011, annual emissions had increased by 5.3 percent to 31.6 billion tonnes. And by early 2013, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surpassed the critical level of 400 parts per million. This is a level not seen on earth since the Pliocene era 3 million years ago.
Under current conditions, global CO2 emissions (including emissions related to deforestation) will reach 41 billion tonnes per year in 2020. The EPA estimates that industrial emissions account for 50 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in the United States, and industry is almost certainly responsible for an even higher proportion of China’s huge and growing emissions. At this scale, and with the relationship of carbon dioxide to climate change, industrial pollution is a driver of massive global problems.
One major effect is rising land temperature. The numbers for the current warming phase are extreme compared to the available historical records. May 2012 was “the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average,” writes Bill McKibben. The spring of 2012 was the hottest ever, and marked the biggest difference with the average seasonal temperature recorded for any season. In the United States, the month of June 2012 broke 3,215 heat records across the country, and May 2012 was the warmest May in the country’s recorded history. There are debates and disagreements about the precise rate, timing, and level of increase. But very diverse types of studies all document this upward trend.
Climate change has already started to affect global agricultural output. The Club of Rome predicts that climate change will cause an increase of 2°C in average temperature by the year 2052 and a 2.8°C rise in average temperature by 2080. An increase of that magnitude is predicted to “reduce yields across two-thirds of the maize-growing region of Africa, even in the absence of drought”; crop losses for maize could reach 20 percent by midcentury.
Not all droughts (or floods) can be attributed to this type of climate change, as I indicated earlier in this chapter. For instance, what is referred to as the “Dust Bowl” in the United States—a dry plain extending from the central United States into Canada, with Oklahoma and Texas as its center—predates anthropogenic climate change. Seager et al. write that one difference today is that the impact of greenhouse gases on the climate has caused the Chihuahuan Desert to expand, or, in Mingfang’s words “We’re essentially moving the desert further north.” There is research on climate change suggesting that by the year 2020, the American Southwest will face permanent drought.
In Asia, the Aral Sea is one instance of a shockingly dried-out lake. Like the Dust Bowl in the United States, climate change is not the sole cause of the drying. But the scale and velocity of water loss may be partly due to the global scale-up of climate change and its blowback to sites only indirectly implicated. Not unlike the United States at the time, Soviet-era irrigation projects are known to have been wildly inefficient. One example is that of the world’s largest irrigation canal, the Qaraqum Canal, which diverted 13 cubic kilometers of water from the Aral Sea for years; as much as 50 percent of this water was lost en route due to poor engineering. On top of these inefficiencies, climate-change-induced drought and desertification sharply increased the stress on the Aral Sea. The end result is that what was once the world’s fourth-largest body of fresh water has been reduced to less than 10 percent of its original volume.
The other major planetary transformation arising from direct and indirect effects of greenhouse gases is the rise of ocean levels and their acidity. Between 443 billion and 629 billion tons of meltwater are added to the world’s oceans each year, which raises sea level by about 1.5 millimeters a year. This is in addition to the 2-millimeter yearly rise caused by expansion of the warming ocean. It’s true, of course, that not all ice-bound areas are melting. Some glaciers are seeing as much ice added to higher-elevation points as melts away from the base; this may occur because thaw at the periphery evaporates into the air and then recondenses and freezes at the colder, less humid peaks. Further, for a variety of meteorological reasons, parts of the Antarctic, as well as particular glaciers elsewhere, are not losing ice due to melting; this is partly explained by the fact that ice forms more easily over land than over the ocean. However, the extent of ice melt is indeed alarming.
Every now and then the major effects of environmental destruction become visible to a larger public. In 2012, 57 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet melted between July 8 and July 12. This reduced ice coverage to 3 percent of its maximum, stunning scientists, terrifying climate watchers, and mobilizing the media into reporting it.
The melting of ice at this scale becomes a major factor in raising sea levels. The interaction between water temperature and ice melt arises from the fact that ice reflects more solar energy than water: this insulates the ocean beneath the ice from the sun. When the ice melts, that insulation thins or disappears, and the ocean water warms, which in turn melts more ice, and so on in a chain of warming water, melting ice, and rising ocean levels. At present, the losses of ice are shared roughly equally between Greenland and Antarctica. If the present acceleration continues, ice sheet melting alone could contribute up to 56 centimeters to sea level rise by 2100.
A distinct type of melt is the thawing of permafrost in the Arctic Circle. This too is caused by anthropogenic climate change. In 2008, the permafrost under the town of Newtok, Alaska, began to thaw and the buildings started to sink. The Bering Sea ate away at what had become a permeable coastline. The 320-person community of Yup’ik Inuit, whose forebears had lived in the same location for two thousand years, was forced to leave. Of Alaska’s 213 Alaska Native villages, 184 have been seriously affected by erosion and flooding; six of them have been deemed to be in need of immediate help.
Permafrost thaw creates a feedback loop that accelerates the type of climate change we are observing. As permafrost thaws, the trapped organic matter begins to decay and to release methane and carbon dioxide. Permafrost thaw is especially dangerous because it is likely to produce methane (CH4), which has a much stronger warming effect than carbon dioxide. Scientists generally agree that between 9 percent and 15 percent of the top three levels of permafrost will melt by 2040; this is expected to increase to between 47 percent and 61 percent by 2100. The estimated carbon release from permafrost degradation is 30 billion to 63 billion tons of carbon by 2040, 232 billion to 380 billion tons by 2100, and 549 billion to 865 billion tons by 2300.
Current efforts by many governments to stem this kind of climate change are not going to be enough. Even if we implement existing agreed-upon standards, we would still not secure the planet’s sustainability. Consider two future patterns: one under current conditions and the second if we implemented all current agreements to reduce environmental damage. It would make a difference, but one far too small to alter the basic trajectory. Existing agreements to address environmental destruction operate at a level and through formats that fail to address the deeper dynamics causing the climate change. These dynamics cut across the existing boundaries and divisions of the interstate system.
Excerpted from“Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy” by Saskia Sassen. Copyright © 2014 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Frontiers of Solitude Symposium
The international symposium Frontiers of Solitude, organized as part of the eponymous art project site will offer a comparison of the opinions, experiences, and points of view of artists, curators, and invited guests on the theme of transitions in the landscape in which we currrently live and of which we are a part.
The symposium will search for relationships between the cultural, political, and economic aspects of contemporary concepts and our understandings of what is meant by such words as Earth, countryside, landscape, and land, including the topography of transitional zones, with an eye on both establishing and crossing over boundaries and limitations.
The term landscape can be understood as a mindset to orient us in the world and to reflect our relationship with the land. It is everywhere around us, under our feet; it is our shared starting point; it is that which at once unites and separates us. With this in mind, we can begin to raise questions about what is happening to the land? How are we connected to it, how do we relate to it, what separates us from it? How and to what extent can we understand the land, and what do we all know and not know about it? To whom does it belong, and how do we change it, for better or worse?
The artist, architect, businessman, technician, scientist, farmer, pilgrim and other kind of specialist each perceive the landscape in their own terms. How can we express and capture in human, rather than statistical, terms, both the visible and invisible transformations that the land undergoes, both locally and globally, with regard to the entire biosphere and climate?
Industrialization brings about mobility of people and goods, hyper-connectivity, overproduction and urbanization, which have transformed a large part of the 21st-century landscape into an industrial concourse, test laboratory, and a field of conflict among people, and between people and other living creatures. From this, there comes about a blurring of existing, seemingly well-defined borders, zones both separate and interconnected, with regions of safety and danger, rich and poor, managed and wild.
Have we already entered an ideosphere of beyond imaginary boundaries? Does contemporary art make it possible to orient ourselves within this unstable and ever-changing territory? Do frequent art projects and festivals, or interdisciplinary symposia on the theme of the Anthropocene offer fresh approaches and visions, or rather exploit the fascination and anxiety as result of the expected and unexpectied changes and transformations?
Guests and participants: Vít Bohal, Dustin Breitling, Peter Cusack, Petr Gibas,Stanislav Komárek, Alena Kotzmannová, Ivar Smedstad, Julia Martin, Pavel Mrkus, Ivo Přikryl, Martin Říha, Matěj Spurný, Tereza Stöckelová, The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Andras Heszky (Translocal Institute), Guy van Belle, Martin Škabraha.
This event takes place and is organized in collaboration of the French Institute in Prague and the support of the Agosto Foundation.
Location: French Institut Prague, Štěpánská 35 Praha 1
Friday 5 February
The first block of presentations consists of the outcomes from the expeditions to Iceland, north Bohemia and FInnmark during late summer of last year as part of the project. Participants will talk about their experiences and thoughts about the journeys. Alena Kotzmanová and Ivar Smedstad will present the Finnmark expedition, Julia Martin and Pavel Mrkus wlll talk about the landscape and industry in Iceland, and Peter Cusack, workshop lecturer for Into the Abyss of Lignite Clouds at the Most coal fields, will speak about his ongoing research into the sonic aspects of environmentaly damaged places and landcapes.
10:30 Miloš Vojtěchovský and Dagmar Šubrtová (CZ) - Welcome and introduction
1.Reports Beyond the Frontiers
10:45 Alena Kotzmannová (CZ) -North
11:00 Ivar Smedstad (NO) - Finnmark
11:30 Julia Martin (IS/D) - The Iceland expedition:Tracing hyperextended objects and their ecological agency
12:00 Pavel Mrkus (CZ) - About "The Fall"
12:15 Peter Cusack (UK) - Sonic Journalism and Places in Transition
13:00 - 14:00 Lunch
2. Landscapes, Gardens, Mines, Dwellings, Voids
The afternoon block covers different aspects of current environmental issues, and in particular, there will be presented a case study of the industrial landscape around the Most basin in north Bohemia.
14:00 Stanislav Komárek (CZ) – Having a Land, Having a Garden
14:30 Martin Říha (CZ) - The Limits of Adaptation -The Men and The Ore Mountains Landscape
15:00 Ivo Přikryl (CZ) - Hydrological System of Landscape after Mining - Ideal and Reality
15:30 Matěj Spurný (CZ) - “We didn’t have the Numbers” The Dawn of Criticism of Socialist Productivism in North Bohemia in the 1960s as a Case Study
16:00 Petr Gibas (CZ) - Voids: The Landscape between presence and absence
Break - 17:00 - 19:00
19:15 Introduction to the film
19:30 Screening of Dreamland
Saturday 6 February
3. Anthropo-Scenes -- The morning block focuses on the broader contexts of the industrial and post-industrial landscape, related to the current discourse on the Anthropocene.
11:00 Martin Škabraha (CZ) - Reclaiming the Landscape
11:30 Dustin Breitling (CZ/USA) - Cognitive Mapping
12:00 Tereza Stöckelová (CZ) - Ontological Uncertainty in the Planetary Lab
12:30 Vít Bohal (CZ) - The Anthropocene: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Lunch break - 13:00 to 14:00
4. Places in Between: in the last block, presentations will offer three examples of how contemporary art and artists reflect the environmental crisis, and the questions of their vision of the future with the closing discussion panel.
14:30 Guy van Belle (B/CZ) - An Ecological Awareness, Crossing Borders between the Real and Imagined?
15:00 András Heszky (HUN) (Translocal institute, Budapest) - The River School and the Ecology of Danube
15.30 Isabelle Frémeaux & John Jordan (FRA/UK) (The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination) - Places in Between
16:00 Panel discussion
17:00 - 19:00 Break
19:00 Screening of The Forgotten Space. (Allan Sekula and Noel Burch)