Daily Archives: February 13, 2013

Reflections on Darwin’s Origin of Species

The The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin was published over 150 years go. At the time, several different alternative theories of the origin and history of life were being discussed in the West. Some of these theories were theological. Theological ideas included a literal translation of the bible, with the flora, the fauna, and humans created in three separate but related creation events on a freshly made earth just a few thousand years ago. Another theological idea had an Abrahamic God’s hand involved in the history of life but in ways we were not likely to understand until after death. Still another idea, championed by the influential Louis Agassiz, had several God-made origins each representing a different combination of habitat, ecology, climate, and human race. Ice ages would periodically wipe everything out and then God would replace the bits, much like how a gamer re-creates a simulated landscape after system crashes or save failures in SimCity (See Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral for an excellent overview of this and related issues). Maybe the gamer does it a little differently each time, and maybe god did that too. Non theological ideas were emerging at the time as well including some like Darwin’s, but Darwin refocused and created de novo several of the key models that are part of Evolutionary Theory today, and it was Darwin and Wallace who advanced the specific theory of Natural Selection. These evolutionary ideas rested within a broader panoply of evolutionary ideas, some of which have faded away, others incorporated, others waiting to be reconsidered.
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Climate Change and Civil Disobedience

At 11:30 AM eastern time today, an act of “civil disobedience will take place around at the East Gate of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, just east of the picture-postcard zone.” #NoKXL is the hashtag.

It is time, apparently. This is a time when more of the money that is out there is in the hands of a very small number of people and corporations, and many of these people and corporations are paying to maintain the status quo, and that status quo involves keeping our economy, or society, our species firmly planted on a track leading to the edge of a very tall cliff. Not the fiscal cliff or some other cliff, but the climate cliff. Science, common sense, and basic moral responsibility tell us that we need to change direction and now, even the President of the United States is telling us that. But very little has been done, compared to what could have been done, to slow down and eventually reverse direction towards what is clearly a major disaster, or really, multiple disasters which will compete with each other to see which of many bad scenarios ends up being the worst scenario.

So, people are taking to the streets. This just came out:

Sierra Club, 350.org and Commited Citizens to Engage in Civil Disobedience Today at White House to Stop Tar Sands, Keystone XL pipeline

Wednesday, February 13 at 10:45 AM ET

Fifty American leaders–including Michael Brune (Sierra Club), Bill McKibben (350.org), Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. (Hip Hop Caucus), civil rights legend Julian Bond, actress Daryl Hannah, Nebraska rancher Randy Thompson and others on the frontlines of climate change–will risk arrest in front of the White House to demonstrate the depth of their support for decisive action against climate change. For the first time in its 120-year history, the Sierra Club will participate in this civil disobedience action to convey the severity and urgency of action on climate.

2012 was the hottest year on record, half the country is in severe drought, and Superstorm Sandy just flooded the greatest city in the world–New York. A global crisis unfolds before our eyes and immediate action is required. President Obama has the executive authority to make a significant and immediate impact on carbon pollution, and he can begin by saying no to Big Oil by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.Civil disobedience is the response of ordinary people to extraordinary injustices. Americans have righted the wrongs of our society – slavery, child labor, suffrage, segregation, and inequality for gays and immigrant workers – with creative nonviolent resistance. Climate change threatens the health and security of all Americans, and action proportional to the problem is required–now.

Details, Contact Information, Etc. are HERE Here is a letter written by the participants in this action:

We’re here today to show the depth of our resolve that President Obama take immediate, decisive action against climate change—to show that if the president leads, the vast majority of Americans will rally behind him. We’re not here today to protest the president, we are here to encourage and support him. We lived through horrors of Superstorm Sandy, the Midwest drought, wildfires, and the hottest year on record: we know in our bones that the time has come to do more than we have, and all that we can.

The president can’t work miracles by himself. An obstructionist Congress stands in the way of progress and innovation. But President Obama has the executive authority and the mandate from the American people to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, and to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline right now.

And we’re here to show something else—that the movement for a clean energy revolution is a broad and powerful one. In 2011 we were moved by the 1,253 Americans who went jail to protest Keystone in the biggest civil disobedience action in many years in this country. Today we are 50 people at the White House representing millions of Americans in every state, in every community. Today we risk arrest because a global crisis unfolds before our eyes. We have the solutions to this climate crisis. We have a moral obligation to stand stand for immediate, bold action to solve climate disruption. We can do it, and we will.