Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’



In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems.

One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees.

“We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,” lamented Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, the tribe to which most Isle de Jean Charles residents belong. “It’s all going to be history.”

The Isle de Jean Charles resettlement plan is one of the first programs of its kind in the world, a test of how to respond to climate change in the most dramatic circumstances without tearing communities apart. Under the terms of the federal grant, the island’s residents are to be resettled to drier land and a community that as of now does not exist. All funds have to be spent by 2022.

Amiya Brunet, 3, on the bridge that leads to her home, which fills with up to a foot of mud during storms. Her parents, Keith Brunet and Keisha McGehee, would like to leave the island.

An abandoned boat in front of the home of Marq Naquin and Ochxia Naquin, who say they plan to stay on the island. The location of the new community has not yet been chosen, and moving is voluntary. Credit Josh Haner/The New York Times

Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’

Observations of climate change among subsistence-oriented communities around the world


This isn’t a scientific study done in a lab or with computer models. Instead, it’s based on on-site observations in hundreds of places around the globe, showing us significant changes to local conditions already being experienced, mostly by indigenous peoples. This has to be an important study.

Here’s the extract from the research paper:

The study of climate change has been based strongly on data collected from instruments, but how local people perceive such changes remains poorly quantified. We conducted a meta-analysis of climatic changes observed by subsistence-oriented communities. Our review of 10,660 observations from 2,230 localities in 137 countries shows that increases in temperature and changes in seasonality and rainfall patterns are widespread (≈70% of localities across 122 countries). Observations of increased temperature show patterns consistent with simulated trends in surface air temperature taken from the ensemble average of CMIP5 models, for the period 1955–2005. Secondary impacts of climatic changes on both wild and domesticated plants and animals are extensive and threaten the food security of subsistence-oriented communities. Collectively, our results suggest that climate change is having profound disruptive effects at local levels and that local observations can make an important contribution to understanding the pervasiveness of climate change on ecosystems and societies.

Here’s an example of one of the maps. I know it’s tough to read. If you link into the article you can see the map with more clarity.

Observations of climate change among subsistence-oriented communities around the world

David Graeber’s The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

bureaucracy, book, book-review, David-Graeber

Bureaucracy is a utopian project: like all utopians, capitalist bureaucrats (whether in private- or public-sector) believe that humans can be perfected by modifying their behavior according to some ideal, and blame anyone who can’t live up to that ideal for failing to do so. Bureaucracy begets bureaucracy. Every effort to do away with bureaucracy ends up with more bureaucracy.


Financial Times; Apr 2, 2001

FT, Starlab, FoAM, reearch, pranks, Mars, deep-future

Beyond the financial hurdles, the centre’s determination to fund offbeat projects such as the Foundation of Affordable Mysticism - an association of artists and technologists exploring new modes of artistic expression - has prompted some critics to question whether Starlab is a group of pranksters masquerading as serious scientists. Time machines and teleportation modules may have great implications in the deep future but few realistic applications in the here and now.


Sonic hedgehog (SHH)

biology, naming, names, metabolism, morphogen, morphogenesis, growth

Sonic hedgehog is one of three proteins in the mammalian signaling pathway family called hedgehog, the others being desert hedgehog (DHH) and Indian hedgehog (IHH). SHH is the best studied ligand of the hedgehog signaling pathway. It plays a key role in regulating vertebrate organogenesis, such as in the growth of digits on limbs and organization of the brain. Sonic hedgehog is the best established example of a morphogen as defined by Lewis Wolpert’s French flag model—a molecule that diffuses to form a concentration gradient and has different effects on the cells of the developing embryo depending on its concentration.


Characterization of the major odor-active compounds in Thai durian ( Durio zibethinus L. ‘Monthong’)

Pubmed, durian, food, flavour, chemistry, taste, smell, AEDA, SHGCO

An aroma extract dilution analysis applied on the volatile fraction isolated from Thai durian by solvent extraction and solvent-assisted flavor evaporation resulted in 44 odor-active compounds in the flavor dilution (FD) factor range of 1-16384, 41 of which could be identified and 24 that had not been reported in durian before. High FD factors were found for ethyl (2S)-2-methylbutanoate (fruity; FD 16384), ethyl cinnamate (honey; FD 4096), and 1-(ethylsulfanyl)ethanethiol (roasted onion; FD 1024), followed by 1-(ethyldisulfanyl)-1-(ethylsulfanyl)ethane (sulfury, onion), 2(5)-ethyl-4-hydroxy-5(2)-methylfuran-3(2H)-one (caramel), 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethylfuran-2(5H)-one (soup seasoning), ethyl 2-methylpropanoate (fruity), ethyl butanoate (fruity), 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol (skunky), ethane-1,1-dithiol (sulfury, durian), 1-(methylsulfanyl)ethanethiol (roasted onion), 1-(ethylsulfanyl)propane-1-thiol (roasted onion), and 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethylfuran-3(2H)-one (caramel). Among the highly volatile compounds screened by static headspace gas chromatography-olfactometry, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg), acetaldehyde (fresh, fruity), methanethiol (rotten, cabbage), ethanethiol (rotten, onion), and propane-1-thiol (rotten, durian) were found as additional potent odor-active compounds. Fourteen of the 41 characterized durian odorants showed an alkane-1,1-dithiol, 1-(alkylsulfanyl)alkane-1-thiol, or 1,1-bis(alkylsulfanyl)alkane structure derived from acetaldehyde, propanal, hydrogen sulfide, and alkane-1-thiols. Among these, 1-(propylsulfanyl)ethanethiol, 1-{[1-(methylsulfanyl)ethyl]sulfanyl}ethanethiol, and 1-{[1-(ethylsulfanyl)ethyl]sulfanyl}ethanethiol were reported for the first time in a natural product.


Bernhard Edmaier | Maelifellsander, Iceland - "Bright green moss has colonized a hill in the middle of Maelifellsandur, a black…

Bernhard Edmaier | Maelifellsander, Iceland -
“Bright green moss has colonized a hill in the middle of Maelifellsandur, a black desert of lava and volcanic ash in Iceland. The hill is all what remains of a once active cinder cone, ground down by ice of the nearby retreating Maelifell glacier” by sornmagazine (via

OverviewCityscapes feature with Super Architects: The planned city of La Plata – the capital city of the Province of Buenos…


#OverviewCityscapes feature with Super Architects:

The planned city of La Plata – the capital city of the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina – is characterized by its strict, square grid pattern. At the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, the new city was awarded two gold medals in the categories ‘City of the Future’ and ‘Better Performance Built’.


34°55′16″S 57°57′16″W

Source imagery: DigitalGlobe

Blockchains could become merely a new technique to ensure the continuation of banking hegemony in its current form. That would…

“Blockchains could become merely a new technique to ensure the continuation of banking hegemony in its current form. That would be one of those final plot twists which leaves everybody thinking that although they enjoyed most of the show, the ending was so disappointing they now wish they hadn’t bothered.”

John Lanchester, ‘When Bitcoin Grows Up’ (2016)

The Geographical Oddity of Null Island

geography, geomancy, imagination, places, null, errorism, data, corruption, correlation

Null Island is an imaginary island located at 0°N 0°E (hence “Null”) in the South Atlantic Ocean. This point is where the Equator meets the Prime Meridian. The concept of the island originated in 2011 when it was drawn into Natural Earth, a public domain map dataset developed by volunteer cartographers and GIS analysts. In creating a one-square meter plot of land at 0°N 0°E in the digital dataset, Null Island was intended to help analysts flag errors in a process known as “geocoding.”


The Gimmick Economy: how central banks pretend software isn’t eating the world


Mathematician/economist Eric R Weinstein is managing director of Thiel Capital, but that doesn’t mean that he thinks capitalism has a future.

In a short, but wide-ranging essay in Edge’s Annual Question series (this year’s question is “What do you consider the most interesting recent [scientific] news? What makes it important?”), Weinstein talks about the fundamentally transformative nature of software-based societies and the challenges they put to the nature of work and economics.

First, Weinstein looks at the impact of software-driven automation on labor and education. Previous cycles of automation have displaced some repetitive work while creating new and better forms of labor in the long run (weavers put out of work by looms, new textile industries created by cheap fabric). But software consists of two kinds of automation: doing repetitive work; and doing “rube goldberg-like processes that happen once,” and mostly, they do the former. Since that’s also what teachers, lawyers, doctors, and software engineers do, meaning that the new software economy displaces far more people – and leaves behind a very small number of opportunities for people who are good at thinking up and executing “rube goldberg-like processes that happen once” (like writing novels or founding Facebook).

He says this leads to ever-more-lavish rewards for successful rube-goldbergers, but disaster for people who use “stable and cyclical work to feed families.”

Next up is software’s intrinsic nature as a “public good” (a good that is inexhaustible and non-excludable – something everyone can use, including people who didn’t pay for it). Historically, he argues, public goods were a minority of the goods we relied on, and we taxed everything else to pay for them. But software (and 3D printers) shift an ever-greater percentage of useful goods into the public good category, leaving a dwindling rump of excludable/rivalrous things that can be used as the raw fodder for market economies.

The result, he says, is an insurmountable challenge to market capitalism (for which “there is as yet no known alternative”). This leads central banks and governments, who have no idea what to do next, propping up markets with “gimmicks” like quantitative easing, while the real economy melts down around them.

The Letlhakane Diamond Mine is located in Botswana roughly 190 kilometers (120 mi) west of the city of Francistown. The open pit…


The Letlhakane Diamond Mine is located in Botswana roughly 190 kilometers (120 mi) west of the city of Francistown. The open pit mine produces 3.6 million tons of ore and an additional 15 million tons of waste rock each year. Diamond mines in Botswana are often considered to be the richest in the world, a figure that takes into account the rate of diamond extraction combined with the quality of the diamonds that are mined (sale price per weight).

21°31′13″S 25°41′20″E


Source imagery: DigitalGlobe

“anti-surveillance” in the most spectacular, hey-look-at-me, Dutch performance-artist kinda way

art, surveillance, NL

*When you wanna be “anti-surveillance” in the most spectacular, hey-look-at-me, Dutch performance-artist kinda way

The Ray Cat Solution

Long-Now, 10000, nuclear, radioactivity, genetic-engineering, bioart, 1981

Philosophers Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri were part of the Human Interference Task Force, employed by the US Department of Energy and Bechtel Corp at the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in 1981. Their solution consisted of two steps. The first step is to engineer a cat that changes colours in response to radioactivity. The second is to establish a culture around these cats, in which the theme is: If your cat changes colour, you should move somewhere else.


Peer review: Troubled from the start

Nature, peer-review, science, knowledge, legitimation, public-perception, process, history, culture

‘Peer review’ was a term borrowed from the procedures that government agencies used to decide who would receive financial support for scientific and medical research. When 'referee systems’ turned into 'peer review’, the process became a mighty public symbol of the claim that these powerful and expensive investigators of the natural world had procedures for regulating themselves and for producing consensus, even though some observers quietly wondered whether scientific referees were up to this grand calling. Current attempts to reimagine peer review rightly debate the psychology of bias, the problem of objectivity, and the ability to gauge reliability and importance, but they rarely consider the multilayered history of this institution. Peer review did not develop simply out of scientists’ need to trust one another’s research. It was also a response to political demands for public accountability. To understand that other practices of scientific judgement were once in place ought to be a part of any responsible attempt to chart a future path. The imagined functions of this institution are in flux, but they were never as fixed as many believe.


The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they…

“The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.”

deleuze, negotiations,129, qtd. inporpentine’s “hot allostatic load”  (viablackshivers)

Rise Of The Trollbot

Internet, troll, bots, chatbot, machine-learning, lols, 4chan, celebrity, democracy

Right now, if you want to have someone attacked by a horde of angry strangers, you need to be a celebrity. That’s a real problem on Twitter and Facebook both, with a few users in particular becoming well-known for abusing their power to send their fans after people with whom they disagree. But remember, the Internet’s about democratising power, and this is the latest frontier. With a trollbot and some planning, this power will soon be accessible to anyone.


Does Language Influence Culture?

Language, culture, thought, time, causality, WSJ

Pormpuraawans, we found, arranged time from east to west. That is, seated facing south, time went left to right. When facing north, right to left. When facing east, toward the body, and so on. Of course, we never told any of our participants which direction they faced. The Pormpuraawans not only knew that already, but they also spontaneously used this spatial orientation to construct their representations of time. And many other ways to organize time exist in the world’s languages. In Mandarin, the future can be below and the past above. In Aymara, spoken in South America, the future is behind and the past in front. In addition to space and time, languages also shape how we understand causality.


50 Years Ago Big Oil Bragged About Being Able To Melt Glaciers, While They Knew About Climate Change


This is another “Holy Shit” moment for the new, environmentally-focused journalists.


Newly-released oil industry documents push back the start date of the world’s most successful disinformation campaign to the 1960s, if not earlier.

The must-read documents, published by The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), strengthen the hand of the numerous attorneys general investigating whether ExxonMobil engaged in a cover-up to mislead the public and investors about the dangers of human-caused climate change.

The New York Times quotes CIEL director Carroll Muffett on the stunning implications of these documents:

“From 1957 onward, there is no doubt that Humble Oil, which is now Exxon, was clearly on notice” about rising CO2 in the atmosphere and the prospect that it was likely to cause global warming, he said.

CIEL documents that back in 1946, the leading oil companies created a “Smoke and Fumes Committee” to back scientific research into air pollution issues and use their findings to shape the public debate about the environment. CIEL explains, “The express goal of their collaboration was to use science and public skepticism to prevent environmental regulations they deemed hasty, costly, and unnecessary.” The Committee, which perhaps should have been named “Smoke and Mirrors,” was later folded into the American Petroleum Institute (API).

[In 1957], scientists with the Humble Oil and Refining Company Production Research Division published — under the company name — a study called “Radiocarbon Evidence on the Dilution of Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon by Carbon from Fossil Fuels.” In other words, by 1957 the precursor company to Exxon knew that burning fossil fuels was boosting CO2 levels in the air.

As an aside, you may recall that the very next year, 1958, the American public saw the first televised warning about the dangers of CO2, global warming, and sea level rise. In a TV episode, “Unchained Goddess,” written and produced by three-time Oscar winner Frank Capra, viewers learn that unrestricted CO2 emissions could “melt the polar ice caps” leading to a world where “Tourists in glass bottom boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami.”

50 Years Ago Big Oil Bragged About Being Able To Melt Glaciers, While They Knew About Climate Change

Malevich shows us what it means to be a revolutionary artist: It means to join the universal material flow that destroys all the…

“Malevich shows us what it means to be a revolutionary artist: It means to join the universal material flow that destroys all the temporary political and aesthetic orders. Here the goal is not change – understood as a change from the existing, “bad” order to a new, “good” order. Rather, radical and revolutionary art abandons all goals, and enters the nonteleological, potentially infinite process that the artist cannot and does not want to bring to an end.”

Boris Groys, “In The Flow”, p. 74 (Verso, 2016). Thus, thinking with Groys, the artist’s intent is to join Kant’s metaphysical space of ‘Things’. (viajuhavantzelfde)

This tattoo-like display is made possible by a new ultra-thin protective ‘E-skin’ It sounds like something out of Star…


This tattoo-like display is made possible by a new ultra-thin protective ‘E-skin’

It sounds like something out of Star Trek: a patch thinner than a band-aid that you slap on your arm and, within moments, it lights up with heart rate, blood sugar, and so on — then peels off a few days later. That’s the goal of work by researchers at the University of Tokyo, who have invented an ultra-thin “E-skin” that can protect flexible electronics and make things like on-skin displays possible.

Full Story: Tech Crunch

5 Magical Beasts And How To Replace Them With A Shell Script

occultism, history, culture, magic, daemonology, alchemy, AI, computing, automation, bots

It was the ultimate goal of many schools of occultism to create life. In Muslim alchemy, it was called Takwin. In modern literature, Frankenstein is obviously a story of abiogenesis, and not only does the main character explicitly reference alchemy as his inspiration but it’s partially credited for sparking the Victorian craze for occultism. Both the Golem and the Homunculus are different traditions’ alchemical paths to abiogenesis, in both cases partially as a way of getting closer to the Divine by imitating its power. And abiogenesis has also been the fascinated object of a great deal of AI research. Sure, in recent times we might have started to become excited by its power to create a tireless servant who can schedule meetings, manage your Twitter account, spam forums, or just order you a pizza, but the historical context is driven by the same goal as the alchemists - create artificial life. Or more accurately, to create an artificial human. Will we get there? Is it even a good idea? One of the talks at a recent chatbot convention in London was entitled “Don’t Be Human” . Meanwhile, possibly the largest test of an intended-to-be-humanlike - and friendlike - bot is going on via the Chinese chat service WeChat.


DeepFool: A simple and accurate method to fool deep neural networks

neural-networks, DeepFool, DeepDream, CNN, classification, machine-learning, deep-learning

State-of-the-art deep neural networks have achieved impressive results on many image classification tasks. However, these same architectures have been shown to be unstable to small, well sought, perturbations of the images. In this paper, we fill this gap and propose the DeepFool framework to efficiently compute perturbations that fools deep network and thus reliably quantify the robustness of arbitrary classifiers.


Robots, lasers, poison: the high-tech bid to cull wild cats

ecology, robotics, robot, cats, feral-cats, Australia, grooming, traps

Robotic killers that detect feral cats, spray their fur with poison and rely on them to essentially lick themselves to death have been deployed in the Australian desert for the first time. Feral cats are one of the biggest threats to many of Australia’s endangered species, killing millions of animals every day throughout the country – and controlling them has proved difficult.


Inky the Octopus Escapes, Still At Large!


Inky, before he escaped from the National Aquarium of New Zealand. Here’s the story, from The New York Times:

The breakout at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, which has captured the imagination of New Zealanders and made headlines around the world, apparently began when Inky slipped through a small gap at the top of his tank.

Octopus tracks suggest he then scampered eight feet across the floor and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that dropped him into Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of North Island, according to reports in New Zealand’s news media.

The aquarium’s keepers noticed the escape when they came to work and discovered that Inky was not in his tank. A less independence-minded octopus, Blotchy, remained behind.

Investigator’s notes:

And this report, from the BBC, so matter-of-fact BBC. Made me laugh:

Denver International Airport in Colorado covers more than 33,000 acres (52 square miles), making it is the largest airport in…


Denver International Airport in Colorado covers more than 33,000 acres (52 square miles), making it is the largest airport in the United States by total land area. The facility is the 18th-busiest airport in the world and the 6th busiest in the United States by passenger traffic with more than 54 million passengers.

39°51′42″N 104°40′23″W


Source imagery: DigitalGlobe