F&O Weekend

F&O’s rich selection of reports, analysis and commentary this weekend includes: new Commentary pieces by Chris Wood and Jonathan Manthorpe, and an Arts note on Norway’s choice of a design to memorialize the country’s horrific 2011 slaying. A Dispatch from ProPublica reviews research on the health impact of fracking for natural gas, while in Expert Witness a professor makes a case for thinking smarter — much smarter — about geoengineering and climate change.

Norway’s Void (Public access)

Jonas Dahlberg_Cut_6- Photo-Jonas-Dahlberg-Studio-1024
© Jonas Dahlberg Studio

A “memory wound” was chosen this month by a Norwegian panel to memorialize the 2011 massacre of 77 people, most of them teenagers, by a political extremist. The winning entry in the July 22 Memorial design competition is by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg. Its several parts are dominated by a void – literally, a slice to be removed from the island where Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered 69 children attending a political camp.

Chris Wood’s new Natural Security column, Eight Simple Rules (Subscription)

She’s looking for love, not to get fracked. These eight simple rules — borrowed from an American sit-com — are addressed to any person (corporate or otherwise) who asks to take my planet out for a date at the mines, the oil well, or the multi-acre Walmart parking lot. By all means, have fun, kids. Come home with a tattoo and a stray dog you found in the street, if you like. Just follow these eight simple rules…

Jonathan Manthorpe: on Malaysian politics, and Chinese Imperialism (Subscription)

Manthorpe writes this week of the conviction of Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, for sodomy in a clearly politically motivated trial. Will it backfire on the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition? The judicial persecution of Anwar by the government has been going on for 16 years, and yet his public support remains solid. Turning his gaze on Ukraine, Manthorpe examines Russia’s motives for interfering in the Crimea — and concludes that the serious Imperialist threat in the world comes not from Russia, but China.

Drilling for Certainty: The Latest in Fracking Health Studies (Public access)

For years environmentalists and the gas drilling industry have been in a pitched battle over the possible health implications of hydro fracking. But to a great extent, the debate has been hampered by a shortage of science. The science is far from settled — but there is a growing body of research to consider. ProPublica offers a survey of some of that work, in air quality, birth outcomes, and other health risks.

On Geoengineering: a case for sophisticated thinking. By Brad Allenby (Public access)

The failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the underlying process of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has led to substantial interest in geoengineering technologies …  The response of falling back on ideological certainties, romantic visions, and over-simplistic worldviews at some point becomes simply a form of irresponsible denial, because the complexity of the systems within which we are embedded mean that there is no home base, no golden age to return to — and our network of systems continues to evolve, and to reflect the growing dominance of human influence. And it will do so regardless of what stories we tell ourselves to try to avoid our responsibilities. What we can do is, to the best of our ability, rationally and ethically respond to the challenges we face. Geoengineering technologies are a part of the technology response that must be developed, but they are only a part, and as we explore them and their implications we need to be far more sophisticated in how we think about them as technologies, and manage them as part of an increasingly engineered planet.



Last but not least, here’s a video for a brain break.

Crows are raspers — to songbirds as Vanilla Ice is to Mozart. And yet it was a photo of crow-like birds, sitting on electric wires, that inspired Jarbas Agnelli to write a piece of music using the location of the birds as notes. He notes on the Vimeo site, below, “I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.” Agnelli credits the composition of the work, Birds on the Wires, to the birds.  The video was a Vimeo staff pick four years ago. It’s worth a fresh listen.

Have a good weekend.

– Deborah Jones

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.