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Posts Tagged ‘revolution’

gutenberg_monument

Photo: History Today
This bronze relief panel from the Gutenberg Monument in Mainz, Germany, was created by sculptor David d’Angers in 1840.

When you make knowledge available to everyone, good things happen. That was one of the attractions of helping to teach English as a Second Language to refugees and other immigrants. Although I decided to take time off to make regular visits to my sister during her cancer treatments, I hope to go back to volunteering before long. Imagine that some of our students couldn’t even read and write in their own language! Opening up doors sure felt important.

Back in the 15th century, reading in Europe was limited to a chosen few. If you wanted to know what was in the Bible, for example, you had to take the word of a Latin scholar who had access to handmade manuscripts. There were no books in circulation for ordinary people. Then Johannes Gutenberg had an idea for moveable metal type, and that led eventually to the printing of Bibles in the vernacular.

Justin Champion writes at History Today, “In 1454, in the Rhineland town of Mainz, three friends formed a legal arrangement to produce an epochal object. An inventor, Johannes Gutenberg, a printer, Peter Schöffer, and a financier, Johann Fūrst, collaborated to publish a Bible – the Gutenberg, as it is now known – widely regarded as a transformative moment in the history of European culture. …

“It heralded a step change in printing technique: whereas earlier forms of printing relied on woodblock technology, the use of moveable metal type allowed more flexible, efficient and cheap printing. The invention of new forms of ink (more like a veneer) enabled crisper and more durable printing. … Printing also enabled accurate, and (mostly) reliable reproduction across a number of volumes. It also meant that any minor mistakes would be reproduced, too.

“The printer who mistakenly omitted a vital ‘not’ from the Ten Commandments was vigorously punished by a very bad-tempered Archbishop Laud in 1631.

“The crisis of Reformation authority encouraged the printing of Bibles in Germany, England and, eventually, Geneva. Luther and Tyndale led the way with their clandestine and vernacular Bibles. … [Vernacular Bibles from] the Tyndale New Testament of 1526 (for which Tyndale was executed) to the King James Version of 1611 – captured and preserved God’s revelation in the English language, specifically aimed to provide a text ideally comprehensible to every English servant and maid. …

“The legacy of the Gutenberg Bible was a revolution in the relationship between reading and authority in the early modern period. This encompassed the practices of lowly men … or, at the other extreme, scholars such as Isaac Newton and John Locke, who owned multiple copies for forensic textual comparison and exchanged commentaries on their findings. … Newton devoted millions of words to decoding the inner meaning of Revelation, but hid his own views from the Anglican establishment for fear of persecution.”

The article History Today, here, emphasizes the effect that Gutenberg’s invention had on the history of religion, but for me as a former publishing person, what’s important is that it enabled the printing of many more books — first in Latin, then in the languages ordinary people spoke — and opened up a new world of knowledge to anyone who was interested.

Today only specialist artisans use moveable metal type and much of our reading is not on paper but online, but I hope that hard-copy print never goes completely out of style. It has a value that humanity has yet to fully appreciate.

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Photo: Auscape/Getty Images/Universal Images Group
Scientists hope to restore damaged coral on the Great Barrier Reef with a technique that has seen success in the Philippines.

As I was preparing this post on an effort to save the Great Barrier Reef, I stumbled upon the news that the 37-year-old ocean warrior behind the climate-change movie Revolution, Rob Stewart, died a year ago in a dive off Key Largo.

That gives a whole different cast to my thoughts. I was going to say something about how happy he must be about the new coral-breeding program that offers a “glimmer of hope” to the Great Barrier Reef. Now it’s “how happy he would have been.” The world can ill-afford to lose an energetic ocean crusader like Stewart.

As the Guardian reports, the coral-breeding project has seen success in the Philippines and is now being tried in Australia.

“Scientists have stepped in as environmental matchmakers by breeding baby coral on the Great Barrier Reef in a move that could have worldwide significance.

“Coral eggs and sperm were collected from Heron Island’s reef during [the November 2016] coral spawning to produce more than a million larvae. The larvae were returned to the wild and placed on to reef patches in underwater mesh tents, with 100 surviving and growing successfully.

“The lead project researcher and Southern Cross University professor Peter Harrison, who discovered mass coral spawning in the 1980s, says the ‘results are very promising.’ …

“The project has the ability to restore damaged coral populations and has seen similar success in the Philippines where blast fishing using explosives to kill schools of fish has destroyed coral.

“The Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director, Anna Marsden, said the research is an important step for the reef, but one that should not lessen the strong action needed against climate change.”

That’s because, as I learned watching Stewart’s movie, it’s the CO2 resulting from climate change that is the big danger.

More at the Guardian, here. See also my review of the movie Revolution, here.

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I  noticed the Eric Carle picture book Mister Seahorse at Suzanne and Erik’s house today, and it got me thinking about seahorses as fathers.

Did you know seahorse fathers carry the babies from conception to birth, not the mothers?

According to Wikipedia, “The male seahorse is equipped with a pouch on the ventral, or front-facing, side of the tail. When mating, the female seahorse deposits up to 1,500 eggs in the male’s pouch. The male carries the eggs for 9 to 45 days until the seahorses emerge fully developed, but very small. Once the young are released into the water, the male’s role is done and he offers no further care.”

It’s kind of the reverse of today’s devoted fathers. With no direct role in giving birth to babies, they sure do get involved in the daily care and feeding. Grandfathers, too. My husband babysits regularly, and can handle most anything, including diapers.

For more on seahorses, and how to protect them, check out the Sea Horse Trust, here. And if you’re up for a refresher on how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is endangering sea creatures with spines, including the pygmy seahorse, reread my review of the climate-change movie Revolution, here.

Art: Eric Carle

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Don’t you love it when something that is extinct turns out not to be extinct at all? Like coelacanths, which, according to Wikipedia, “were thought to have become extinct in the Late Cretaceous, around 66 million years ago, but were rediscovered in 1938 off the coast of South Africa.”

While I’m waiting for someone to prove unequivocally the existence of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, I will regale myself with Lazarus-like sea snakes in Australia.

I saw this Australian Associated Press story at the Guardian: “A species of sea snake thought to be extinct has been rediscovered off the Western Australian coast. A wildlife officer spotted two courting short-nosed sea snakes while patrolling in Ningaloo marine park on the state’s mid-north coast. …

“The Western Australian environment minister, Albert Jacob, said the discovery was especially important because they had never been seen at Ningaloo reef.

“A Department of Parks and Wildlife officer photographed the snakes on Ningaloo Reef and James Cook university scientists identified them.”

Maybe marine creatures such as sea snakes and coelacanths are more likely to be preserved than woodpeckers — hidden away in the ocean’s unexplored depths. Still, as a movie I reviewed, Revolution, made clear, the seas are threatened, too.

More on courting sea snakes at the Guardian.

Photo: Grant Giffen/AFP/Getty Images
The discovery of the short-nosed sea snake, previously thought to have been extinct, is significant because the species had never been seen in the Ningaloo marine park in Western Australia before.

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At Moth Radio Hour, people who can tell stories well are recorded telling theirs before an audience, without notes or prompts. I was driving home one day when I heard a story by Jensi Sartin, who showed fishermen in Bali how to save their livelihoods by “banking” some fish.

A bit of background on Sartin comes from the Aspen Ideas blog: “Jensi Sartin is the director of the Reef Check Foundation Indonesia in Bali, where he devises community-based strategies to protect the coral reefs in Indonesia. [In] his story ‘The Fish Bank,’ [he talks] about how he tried to bring the fish back to Bali.

‘This is not just about 75 percent of the world’s coral reef going extinct, it’s not just about the fish that will just disappear. This is about people, because there are lots of people that depend on this coral reef. There are a lot of people that depend on the fish and this healthy coral to feed their family.’

“Sartin says that his experience growing up in the rainforests of Borneo – where deforestation was already under way – prepared him for his professional career as an advocate for the world’s oceans. ‘All of these things are connected,’says Sartin. … ‘Protected areas are not about managing resources, they are about managing people.’

“Sartin says community-based conservation forms a crucial part of sustainable development, especially in regions of the world that are environmentally stressed.” Here is the Aspen link.

If you missed my review of the climate-change movie Revolution, which shows how coral reefs are sending us a warning, check it out here.

And you can listen to Sartin’s inspiring storytelling at Moth.

Photo: Caroline Lacey
On the Moth Radio Hour, Jensi Sartin talks about creating a fish bank.

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Suzanne’s Mom was asked to review Revolution, a film by the young environmentalist, biologist, diver, and Sharkwater filmmaker Rob Stewart.

Encompassing gorgeous deep-sea photography, scientific climate-change testimony, a representative of the drowning country of Seychelles, and many youth demonstrations, the documentary forces you to think about what the burning of fossil fuels is doing to the oceans and what it means for the future of the planet. It also gives you the sense that anyone can do something about it — take up a camera, make a poster, or write a letter that makes a change.

The film is infused with a sense of youth, of young people saying, “Enough!” I particularly loved the moment early on when Stewart, who had read only two books on filmmaking, is flubbing his lines in front of Darwin’s Arch. What comes across in addition to the humorous inexperience is a feeling of energy, optimism, and determination.

The film has many engaging details about sea life that Stewart can’t resist throwing in, like how the endangered pygmy seahorse, which camouflages itself to look like coral, “mates for life — and the guy gets pregnant!”

He talks about how the burning of fossil fuels creates too much carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by the ocean and is harmful to anything that needs to grow a skeleton, which is pretty much everything but nasty, poisonous creatures that flourish in the muck where corals died, like the flamboyant cuttlefish. Coral expert Charlie Veron comments that at the same rate of ocean acidification caused by too much CO2, there will be no coral reefs in 50 years.

Stewart also looks at the island nation Madagascar, sole home of lemurs, explaining that endangered tropical forests are responsible for 1/4 of the world’s species and 1/3 of our oxygen. Madagascar scientist Serge Rajaobelina says that population growth on the island and the burning of the trees for development has meant the loss of 80 percent of the forest in 40 years, more than in 55 million years.

The movie goes on to cover perhaps a few too many youth protests, including one in which an inspired, tree-planting young boy says, “We have found we have to save our own future,” and is later arrested in tears.

But then we get to see that children and young adults are actually having an impact.

A sixth-grade class in Saipan writes letters to the Saipan government against killing sharks for shark fin soup, and the government signs a law preventing the practice. In fact, we are told, since the first Stewart film, China, the main adherent of shark-fin soup, has dropped the practice by 70 percent, and 100 countries have banned it.

The upbeat Saipan children who comment on their successful advocacy embody the truth of my favorite Pete Seeger line, “one and one and 50 make a million.” Says one, “Maybe the world might not end because of what we are doing.”

Watch the Revolution trailer here.

[We do not accept gifts here, so the DVD that the film company sends me for screening and reviewing will be forwarded to Save the Bay, RI.]

The late Rob Stewart. The filmmaker did not come up from a dive 1/31/17 near Key Largo.
rob_stewart_memdf

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In March, ecoRI posted an article about a Rockefeller Foundation proposal for  protection of four sensitive coastal areas.

The website reports, “Leading climate scientists, engineers, designers and scholars recently collaborated to create comprehensive resiliency design proposals for vulnerable coasts along the North Atlantic, such as Rhode Island’s.

Structures of Coastal Resilience (SCR), a Rockefeller Foundation-supported project dedicated to providing resilient design proposals for urban coastal environments, focuses on four vulnerable coasts: Narragansett Bay; Jamaica Bay in New York; Atlantic City in New Jersey; and Norfolk, Va.

“Each of the project locations feature ongoing projects by the Army Corps of Engineers, and each location is highly prone to flooding and socioeconomic vulnerability, according to project officials. The goal of SCR is provide actionable project recommendations for hurricane protection and climate adaptation. …

“As Rhode Island was spared the worst of the devastation associated with Hurricane Sandy [in 2012], it’s an ideal location for developing structures of coastal resilience that can be advanced gradually and through systematic evaluation and adaptation, according to project officials. …

“As increased urban runoff and higher saltwater levels merge on the coastal zone, some species are threatened while others adapt. Marsh and dunes recede while weedy forest cover creeps closer to the beachfront. Plants with high salt tolerance that are capable of rapid establishment have begun to colonize areas with accommodating soil. Designers can capitalize on this process, deploying plants to prevent erosion and build resilient coasts.” More here.

Folks, a woman involved with a movie about saving the oceans (Revolution) e-mailed to ask if I would review it, and I said sure. So watch this space.

Photo: CityData.com

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