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humans and animals

Ethno-ornithology: What the birds have to tell us

From The Conversation: People around the world and throughout history have used birds to think about and predict the future. This new research project that compared reports from six continents found that people from diverse communities pay attention to particular birds and what they reveal about the world around us, from approaching weather to illness.

Priya Rajan: A window as wide as the world

I live in a concrete maze that boasts a few yards of curbed open space and calibrated greenery. High-rises clutter the view of sky; pigeons and mynahs rule the roofs. Urban wildlife often feels incongruous, surreal. A praying mantis sheltering from lashing rain makes the windowsill suddenly more meaningful, though that is not its purpose.

As animals and plants go extinct, languages die off too

From Vice.com: Just like an animal species, our languages evolved in the context of the environments that surrounded them. When we change those environments, we threaten much more than just the physical living things that thrive there. In the parts of the world where biodiversity is most at risk, words and phrases also face extinction.

What America lost when it lost the bison

From The Atlantic: In the 18th century, European colonizers virtually eliminated the American bison. When we lose animals, we also lose everything those animals do. When insects decline, plants go unpollinated. When birds disappear, pests go uncontrolled and seeds stay put. When bison are exterminated, springtime changes in ways that we still don’t fully understand.

Earth Emotions: New Words for a New World

In Richard Louv’s words: “Glenn Albrecht is among the most important eco-philosophers today. He is also a map-maker: he names the roads ahead, the dead-ends, the detours, and potential destinations. And, unlike so many scientists, he does so with a new language of emotions―those now emerging from the tragedy and the possibility of the Earth.”

Eating for a better world: Some questions and a guide

From Trophic Tales: The focus on the welfare of individual domesticated animals might be an extension of the modernist tendency to simplify and discriminate. The morality of living, eating, and dying is more complex than two-word slogans can prescribe. If we care about animals —wild or domesticated— we’ve to think in terms of entire ecosystems.

Nathan J. Robinson: How wild animals became the proletariat

The fact is, wild animals do not make sense under capitalism. Capitalism operates according to a quite simple set of rules. Your desires are respected in accordance with the amount of financial resources you have available to you. Every wild animal is poor, thus no wild animal gets a “vote” over how resources are used.

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals, by Sy Montgomery

From The Millions: When human leaders fail us as role models, we should look to animals, says Sy Montgomery. “I can tell you that teachers are all around to help you: with four legs or two or even eight. All you have to do is recognize them as teachers and be ready to hear their truths.”

There is nowhere left to run

Ratheesh Pisharody writes: There’s really nowhere to run whether we are mammals, trees, insects or even indigenous tribes. What chances do we see for the planet’s revival? When humans take away both “space” and “time” from our co-passengers on this planet, we’re leaving no “leverage” for the others to “somehow” adjust and make it through.

Western science is finally catching up with Traditional Knowledge

From The Conversation: Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world? As ways of knowing, both systems share important and fundamental attributes. There are also many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.

The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World

Peter Wohlleben, author of the best-selling ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, explores the emotions and intelligence of animals in his new book. New scientific discoveries in this field have big moral implications, he says. A review and an excerpt, plus the video of an eye-opening talk by animal ethologist Jonathan Balcombe on the inner life of animals.

On the wildness of children

Carol Black writes: Some of our children, it turns out, are more like pigeons and squirrels, and some are more like bears. Some of them adapt to the institutional walls we put around them, some pace till their paws bleed. The bleeding of these children, if we listen, can tell us many stories about ourselves.

Being human, in a more-than-human world

David Abram writes: I am dazzled, yes, by the creativity of the human mind, but I’m also struck dumb by the ability of various aspen groves to maintain and replenish themselves, through their common root system, for eighty thousand years and more. Are we humans unique? Sure we are. But then, so is everyone else around here.

In drought-prone Maharashtra, a farmer leaves his entire crop for birds

From The Better India: Ashok Sonule of Kolhapur has left his harvest-ready jowar crop remain on his land for birds to feed on. His logic is simple. “Birds and animals have suffered a lot this year, with lakes drying up and crops wilting. There are few fields in this area the birds can call home.”

We’ll never see these animals again

From Mother Jones: Most scientists now agree that we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction, but unlike before, humans are responsible for this one. Here are some of the highlights from the Red List, the most comprehensive roster of threatened species available, including three that went extinct last year and others to watch out for in 2017.

Howling with wolves: A classical pianist’s testimony

From Orion Magazine: Wolves actually harmonize their voices with us, says Helene Grimaud. “When a human joins in a howl and his pitch lands on the same note, wolves will alter their pitch to prolong the harmonization. If you end up on the same pitch as a wolf, he‘ll modulate his voice to match yours.”

A manifesto for the green mind

We consume more, we fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. We have more stuff, our lives are more convenient, yet we’re not happier. Prof. Jules Pretty sets out a plan to engage people with Nature and create more sustainable and enjoyable living for everyone. The first call to action is: “Every child outdoors every day”.

An Atlas for the End of the World

The Atlas for the End of the World chronicles the archipelago of protected areas into which the world’s genetic biodiversity is now huddled. It is not about the end of the world per se; but the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation and its concomitant myths of progress.

Module 5: Biodiversity & Species Extinction

Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.

Suprabha Seshan: The music of everything

I’m no elephant whisperer, nor do I claim to have complex exchanges with them by moonlight, but the reverse is true: when they come by, I’m whispered out of my den by their calls and cries, by their trumpets, rumbles and whooshing sighs. When elephants arrive in the valley, I scoot out of my sheets.

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