Saturday, December 30, 2017

Population Oscillations OR Collapsing Ecosystem

Hat Tip: Thanks Dave

The ongoing collapse of King Salmon in Alaska is once again in the news:
Nathaniel Herz (2017, Dec 29). Southeast Alaska’s king salmon are disappearing, and fishermen are grappling with the consequences. Anchorage Daily News. Available
...There's some sense that climate change could be causing a "regime shift" and a long-term change in ecosystems, said Peter Hagen, deputy director of a federal fisheries laboratory in Auke Bay, near Juneau.

"There's a whole question: Is this a new normal? And I don't think we've determined that yet," Hagen said.

But Hagen and Adkison, the fisheries professor, both pointed out that salmon have proven to be resilient. Fossil records show that big population changes are typical, Adkison said.

"In the salmon business, we're used to these dramatic fluctuations in productivity," he said. "If I had to bet, I would favor the short-term fluctuation and I would expect them to eventually rebound. But the current numbers are really low."
I've been following the (reported) acceleration of excess mortality events among animal populations. Here is my 2012 post on the King Salmon that "went missing" that year:
King Salmon Missing
In 2013 I created a compilation of news headlines and links addressing what I called "anomal anomalies," as documented here in this 2013 post: 

Polar bears, walruses, salmon, sardines, starfish, etc. These and so many other marine and land animal populations experienced precipitous declines due to "inexplicable" wasting syndromes and odd infections that began being reported in great number in 2012.

[when I checked on bee and bat declines I discovered that the Wikipedia article attributes the rapid decline in bats from white fungal disease to 2012 here. In contrast, bee "colony collapse disorder" was named in 2006]

Every animal population imperiled has no doubt suffered in complex ways from human engineering and thoughtlessness, including experiences of habitat loss and rapid deterioration of remaining habitats due to the synergistic effects of countless environmental assaults.

Still, I find it more than coincidental that the acceleration of mass mortality events became markedly evident in 2012.

Fukushima's ongoing and UNPRECEDENTED RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION of the ocean and the general dispersal of industrial pollutants by the Japan's terrible 2011 tsunami ARE STRANGELY ABSENT from most all news coverage of marine welfare.

Yet, ALL THE SCIENTIFIC DATA available, including data generated by the US Geological Survey and the CTBTO, documented widespread fallout contamination in North America.

Scientific models on ocean dispersion predicted a plume of radioactive contamination would reach North America and add to the coastal fallout from precipitation by 2013. This prediction was tested and found to be true in San Diego, CA.

Fukushima's ongoing dissemination of radioactive contamination has lessened since 2012 but it has not ceased.

I'm sure that Fukushima isn't the only source of radioactive contamination from artificially engineered radio-isotopes such as Cesium-137 and Strontium-89 but it is the largest known.

Might it represent a tipping point in ocean life? That question will probably never be answerable empirically because not enough research is investigating impacts.

What is clear however is that the accelerated decimation of animal life on earth will not occur without grave human losses as well. It is my belief that when we destroy the eco-system upon which we depend, we are destroying ourselves.

Unfortunately, our capacity to grapple with the spectre of our destruction is impeded by our capacity to rationalize.

The idea of "population oscillations" is the rationalization deployed most often to account for the dislocations in ecological life observed by scientists and everyday people in touch with their environments.

Populations don't simply oscillate by chance. Numbers drop and decline in relation to the contingencies of system-environment interactions. Precipitous declines typically result from amplifying feedback loops, often resulting from either over-population or some dramatic change in the environment, such as a sudden and unprecedented onslaught of marine contamination.


Pacific Ocean tipping points

Bioaccumulation: Cesium is One Among the 1000 Radionuclides Unleashed by Fukushima Bioaccumulation: Cesium is One Among the 1000 Radi...

Contaminated Water at Fukushima Daiichi Majia's Blog: Contaminated Water at Fukushima Daiichi ...

Will Fukushima Daiichi Kill Vast Swathes of Ocean life Majia's Blog: Will Fukushima Daiichi Kill Vast Swathes of ...

Endless Atmospheric and Ocean Emissions Majia's Blog: Endless Atmospheric and Ocean Emissions

How much Fukushima Fuel is in the Ocean

Ocean Releases Majia's Blog: Ocean Releases

Humanity’s End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans: Majia's Blog: Humanity's End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans

Compromised Oceans mean Compromised People: Majia's Blog: Compromised Oceans Mean Compromised People

Radiation plumes headed to N. America Majia's Blog: Fukushima Radiation Plumes in the Ocean Headed to ...

Majia’s Blog: The Art of Deception


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Russian Hacking and the "Permanent Emergency"

Sometimes I find a book, article, or poem that provides a catharsis because it so resonates with my analysis of, and emotional tenor towards, some critical issue of the day.

The following analysis of the Russian Hacking meme by Jackson Lears is one of those cathartic essays.  One must read it in full to appreciate the full scope of his analysis but I will except a brief passage here:
Lears, Jackson (2018, January). What we don’t talk about when we talk about Russian hacking. London Review of Books 40(1), 15-18. Available

The centrepiece of the faith, based on the hacking charge, is the belief that Vladimir Putin orchestrated an attack on American democracy by ordering his minions to interfere in the election on behalf of Trump. The story became gospel with breathtaking suddenness and completeness. Doubters are perceived as heretics and as apologists for Trump and Putin, the evil twins and co-conspirators behind this attack on American democracy. Responsibility for the absence of debate lies in large part with the major media outlets. Their uncritical embrace and endless repetition of the Russian hack story have made it seem a fait accompli in the public mind. It is hard to estimate popular belief in this new orthodoxy, but it does not seem to be merely a creed of Washington insiders. If you question the received narrative in casual conversations, you run the risk of provoking blank stares or overt hostility – even from old friends. This has all been baffling and troubling to me; there have been moments when pop-culture fantasies (body snatchers, Kool-Aid) have come to mind.

Like any orthodoxy worth its salt, the religion of the Russian hack depends not on evidence but on ex cathedra pronouncements on the part of authoritative institutions and their overlords. Its scriptural foundation is a confused and largely fact-free ‘assessment’ produced last January by a small number of ‘hand-picked’ analysts – as James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, described them – from the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The claims of the last were made with only ‘moderate’ confidence....

....It’s hard for me to understand how the Democratic Party, which once felt scepticism towards the intelligence agencies, can now embrace the CIA and the FBI as sources of incontrovertible truth. One possible explanation is that Trump’s election has created a permanent emergency in the liberal imagination, based on the belief that the threat he poses is unique and unprecedented....

Lears' argument holds that Russian hacking meme has become a foundational mythos without critical reflection on the evidence supporting its assumptions, particularly the assumption that the Russians caused the Democratic Party's election loss and that the Russians are US enemies:

Besides Trump’s supposed uniqueness, there are two other assumptions behind the furore in Washington: the first is that the Russian hack unquestionably occurred, and the second is that the Russians are our implacable enemies
Learns observes that the Russian hacking meme is being promoted in ways that do not allow evidence or critique to test its assumptions. Most importantly, the meme deflects attention from the Democratic Party's own failures that drove away voters from their ticket, especially the party's elevation of elite interests over the traditional concerns of workers.

The Russian hacking meme is not innocent and its solution frame is concerning. I've discussed on this blog my concerns about how this Russian hacking meme is being used to "reign in" the chaos of the Web 2.0 (i.e., user-generated content) web-environment.

I've noted that rather than promoting greater transparency by posters and critical analysis by readers, the Russian hacking meme elevates CENSORSHIP as its solution frame. 

I am not dismissing Russian manipulation and propaganda. I have no doubt that the Russians are engaged in the same sorts of Internet duplicity pursued by a wide array of trolls and shills hired by corporations and governments to control public opinion.

Thus, although its clear that sites such as Facebook and aggregator sites such as SOTT include "news" articles and human interests stories designed by shills and trolls to fragment political solidarity, the Russians are simply adopting a time-tested strategy in an already crowded battlefield.  

Moreover, the effectiveness of propaganda is ultimately conditioned by public receptivity.  Susceptibility to polarizing discourses doesn't occur in a vacuum. The material conditions of day-to-day existence shape discursive susceptibilities and mobilizations.

I agree with Lears that the "permanent emergency" is not quite what it seems. I believe Trump's election was caused less by Russian hacking, than it was created by neoliberal and neoconservative "reforms" aimed at de-regulating finance and trade while shifting societal risks to individuals (promoted by both Democrats and Republicans).

Declining opportunities have created the conditions of possibility for revolutions of rising expectations. I've documented these shifts and the escalating financial, environmental, and social crises deriving from them in my published monographs, especially Governmentality, Biopower, and Everyday Life, Governing Childhood, and Crisis Communications, Liberal Democracy, and Ecological Sustainability.

To blame the election of the frightening nihilist Trump on the Russians is to erase the material day-to-day conditions of discontent that were wrought by the crisis of late capitalism and the neoliberal and neoconservative regimes of government that sought "reform"benefiting elite interests.

The Republic Party as far back as the 1980s seized on growing discontent among white populations and signified its cause in relation to social-welfare, liberals, feminisists, and non-white populations. Russian propaganda simply adopted the chain of signifiers already put into play by Rove and his followers.

Hence, in the propaganda blame game for the election of Trump I would personally trace the current politics of white resentment back decades to Karl Rove's efforts to grow and unify conservatives (see here). I would trace the conditions of possibility for public discontent and divisiveness to economic "reforms" pursued by both parties with little regard for their impacts on everyday people and communities.

The Internet does need better transparency and audiences need to be trained in critical thinking skills from Kindergarten all the way up the education ladder. What we don't need is NEWSPEAK and false memes designed to deflect attention from our material realities.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fukushima's Lost Childhoods

I was searching for information today for a project I'm writing on the social justice issues surrounding chronic exposure to elevated levels of radiation.

Lost childhood is one among the many effects documented in reports by NGOs submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights:

Nature deprivation syndrome. Lost childhood by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident.