Living with Zombie Mines

Post by John Sandlos and Arn Keeling

Mention the words “zombie mine” and you risk conjuring images of grotesque undead figures lurking in dark abandoned tunnels, more the stuff of movie or video game fantasies than anything to do with mining in the real world. And yet, the idea behind the zombie – that of a malevolent force expressed though the afterlife – is a useful metaphor for thinking about the social and environmental issues surrounding abandoned mines. Our research project, Abandoned Mines in Northern Canada, has suggested to us that mines can have a zombie-like ‘afterlife’ in two ways: through the redevelopment of a formerly abandoned mine to remove remaining ore deposits as prices improve on global markets, or (the focus of this blog contribution) though long-term environmental impacts such toxic tailings, acid mine drainage, or landscape change.

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Photo of the Week – Lawrence Culver

Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley Viewed from the Summit of MountSan Jacinto
Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley Viewed from the Summit of Mount
San Jacinto. Photo: Lawrence Culver.

The Coachella Valley and adjacent Imperial Valley, both part of the Colorado Desert in southeastern California and northern Baja California, are located in one of the hottest and driest regions in the world. The Coachella Valley is home to Palm Springs and a number of other desert resort cities famed for lush golf courses and swimming pools. The Imperial Valley is one of the largest centers of agricultural production in the US, providing produce year-round. Both are dependent on the Colorado River for their artificial abundance of water.

(Please click the photo for a larger image.)

Photo of the Week – Ingo K. Heidbrink

Heidbrink1
Photo: Prof. Dr. Ingo Heidbrink (December 2012)

The remains of the Norwegian whaling station ‘Hector Whaling Company’ and the British Research Station ‘Deception Island – Base B’ at Whalers Bay on Deception Island were destroyed by volcanic eruptions in 1967 and 1969. Today they serve as a monument for the whaling history of Antarctica as well as for the exposure of all human activities to natural hazards in high latitudes.

(Please click the photo for a larger image.)

Worldview: China’s Colorful Future

Post by Fei Sheng

“Yellow” has a unique meaning in the Chinese conception of environment and society. We have always believed that our civilization—which, despite small interruptions, has never been significantly disrupted during the last 4,000 or even 5,000 years—is derived from the soil of our mother land, the Yellow Highland (Loess Plateau), and from the water of our mother river, the Yellow River. Defining us within a settled and agricultural tradition, “yellow” is the symbol of all that is stable, fertile, and peaceful. Is this an accurate representation of our country? Does it reflect our understanding of environment and history?

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Five Minutes with a Fellow: Andrea Kiss

Five Minutes with a Fellow offers a brief glimpse into what inspires researchers in the environmental humanities. The interviews feature current and former fellows from the Rachel Carson Center.

pic_kissAndrea Kiss holds an MSc in geography, MAs in history and Hungarian medieval studies from Szeged University, and an MA and PhD in medieval studies from Central European University. She has taught at Szeged University for 16 years, lecturing on historical geography, environmental history, and related disciplines. Since 2010 she has been a research fellow at the Habsburg Historical Institute in Budapest and Szeged University. Her research focuses mainly on long-term changes in the historical environment of Hungary and the Carpathian Basin.

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“The Anthropocene: Where on Earth Are We Going?”

We are pleased to present a video of the keynote speech from the opening of The Anthropocene Project, a transdisciplinary investigation into the Anthropocene hypothesis, which states that Earth has entered a new geological epoch in which mankind itself has become a dominant geophysical force.

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“Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw”: Jiang Rong’s “Wolf Totem”

Post by Brenda Black

Jiang Rong’s autobiographical novel Wolf Totem was one of the group reads for the Global Environment Summer Academy held at the Rachel Carson Center last August. It recounts the experiences of a Chinese college student, Chen Zhen (the author’s alter ego), sent to live among the nomadic herders of Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. The young man is fascinated by the grasslands and the customs and culture of the people he is living among. The sheepherders live in constant conflict with the wolves as they try to protect their herds from attacks by the hungry animals, but also honor and revere them, returning their dead to the heavens (“sky burial”) through the agency of the wolves. This world is in danger, however, from the Chinese government, which is sending immigrants to settle and plow the grasslands in order to help feed China’s growing population.

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Research Roundup #1

Introducing our new regular feature: the Research Roundup, Seeing the Woods’ quarterly listing of recent publications in the environmental humanities by staff and fellows at the Rachel Carson Center.

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Climates of Migration: An Interview with Uwe Lübken

pic_luebkenIn a kind of commentary on the Kyoto Protocol, researchers at the Rachel Carson Center are studying historical examples that illustrate the scale of population displacement that climate change can bring about. In this interview the head of the project, Uwe Lübken, discusses questions of climate and migration

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New Year, New Name, New Look, Same Mission!

Presenting the RCC’s blog, take two…

We have a new look and a new name: Seeing the Woods!

In our excitement about launching the RCC’s blog, we unfortunately overlooked an important step: making sure our desired name was not already taken. Alas, we have learned a lesson.

A well-established political blog has been running under the name “Seeing the Forest” since 2002. So, to avoid confusion and to ensure both blogs can preserve their uniqueness, we decided to change our name.

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Five Minutes with a Fellow: Carmel Finley

Five Minutes with a Fellow offers a brief glimpse into what inspires researchers in the environmental humanities. The interviews feature current and former fellows from the Rachel Carson Center.

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Carmel Finley is interested in the role of oceans as an intersection between science and politics. Her book All the Fish in the Sea: Maximum Sustained Yield and the Failure of Fisheries Management (University of Chicago Press, 2011) deals with the influence of the US State Department in the development of fisheries science between 1945 and 1958. Finley also maintains a blog about the history of fishing in the Pacific. A former newspaper reporter, in 2007 Finley completed her PhD in the history of science at the University of California, San Diego.

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The Art of Ecological Thinking: documenta 13

Post by Ben Tendler

Now held every five years for 100 days in Kassel, Germany, documenta is one of the largest and most important international contemporary art fairs in the world. It was originally one element among many aimed at social, political, and cultural recovery following the collapse of Germany’s Nazi regime. As such, at its inception in 1955, one of its key purposes was to restore to prominence artworks that the Nazis had branded “degenerate” (entartete Kunst) in 1937. Since then, documenta has provided a unique window on international art movements. By the time documenta 13 ended in September this year, themes of collapse and recovery associated specifically with the post-World War II scenario in Germany had clearly become entangled with themes of collapse and recovery associated with contemporary or pending ecological crises around the world.

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