Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give “credit” to God, Attenborough added: “They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.”
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But by the late 1920s, the infamous automobile tycoon Henry Ford set out to break the back of this rubbery monopoly. His hundreds of thousands of new cars needed millions of tires, which were very expensive to produce when buying raw materials from the established rubber lords. To that end, he established Fordlândia, a tiny piece of America which was transplanted into the Amazon rain forest for a single purpose: to create the largest rubber plantation on the planet. Though enormously ambitious, the project was ultimately a fantastic failure.
Unfortunately no one had paid attention to the fact that the land’s previous owner was a man named Villares– the same man Henry Ford had hired to choose the plantation’s site. Henry Ford had been sold a lame portion of land, and Fordlândia was an unadulterated failure.
Damn Interesting » The Ruins of Fordlândia
Via an article in The Observer.
If you add retailers’ profit to farm gate prices, their
value to the UK economy is in the region of £1 billion a year, and 35% of
our diet is directly dependent on them. It is an equation of stark
simplicity. No pollination: no crops. There is nothing theoretical about it.
The reality is in (or, more accurately, not in) the hives. The US has lost
70% of its honeybee colonies over the past two winters. Losses in the UK
currently are running at 30% a year — up from just 6% in 2003.
In addition to his general theory of relativity, Albert Einstein had a specific theory about the relativity of man and bee. “If the bee disappears off the surface of the globe,” he is supposed to have said, “then man would only have four years of life left.”
If other scientists are more cautious, it is only in terms of the timescale.
On the face of it, the midwinter appearance of Bombus terrestris looks encouraging — a harbinger of the all-year summers that optimists look forward to. But this is precisely the problem. Contrary to what one might expect, says Goulson, a warming climate will not set the hedgerows buzzing. “Bumblebees evolved in the Himalayas. They are unusual among insects in that they don’t like warm weather.” Their thick fur coat is an aid to survival in a cool climate but an energy-sapping body-broiler in the heat. “This is why the southern hemisphere has no bumblebees.”
Once upon a time, for example, the great yellow bumblebee, Bombus distinguendus, which thrives in the cold and wet, was common throughout Britain. Now it has been driven so far northwards that it occurs on the mainland only within half a mile of the extreme north coast of Caithness and Sutherland. “So,” says Goulson, “it can go no further. It is probably doomed as a result of climate change.”
You take one brick out of the ecological wall, others crumble around it. Then more crumble, on and on until the edifice collapses. Ecologists call it an extinction vortex. You lose bees, you lose plants. You lose plants, you lose more bees. Then more plants, then other insects, then the birds and animals that depend on them and on each other, all the way up the food chain. But never mind animals — if you stretch the process far enough, you’re talking about humans.
“The wars for control of the dwindling resources, the suffering, and the tumultuous decline to dark-age barbarism would be unprecedented in human history.” Wilson concedes that we might survive quite happily without body lice and malarial mosquitoes. Otherwise, he says: “Do not give thought to diminishing the insect world. It would be a serious mistake to let even one species of the millions on Earth go extinct.”
Already, says Goulson, crop yields are beginning to suffer. Bald spots are appearing at the centres of bean fields where bumblebees are failing to penetrate. As in so many other aspects of global life, it is China that lights the way ahead. In Sichuan province, the most important crop is pears, which depend on pollination by bees. But there are no bees. A blunderbuss approach to pesticides has all but wiped them out. Result: thousands of villagers have to turn out with paintbrushes to pollinate the trees by hand. “It’s just about possible in a country where labour is cheap,” says Goulson, “but it wouldn’t work in Europe.”
Yes, it’s the speed of using swiftcover.com to get his insurance that has enabled Iggy Pop, rock legend, to finally “get a life”. Things seemed so much more exciting when he was just the passenger.
Bathetic: as in
… now used more broadly to cover any ridiculous artwork or performance. More strictly speaking, bathos is unintended humor caused by an incongruous combination of high and low”
… “The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.”
Haines firing a flare gun from a Swedish hotel window at Oasis, the Verve and a psychotic roadie, as they march drunkenly around a fountain at three in the morning, chanting “You’ll never take the North”, is so bathetic as to be unimpeachably real.
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The state of the beaches is a blow to Dubai’s reputation as an international holiday destination offering almost guaranteed sunshine and sparkling seas.
But it is not clear who is to blame for their deterioration. Local authorities have been criticised for failing to stop lorry drivers dumping human and industrial waste into the ocean, but the rapid development of the coast in recent years, in an attempt to capitalise on the tourist market, has also contributed to the mess.
Mr Mutch first detected the sewage during a walk on the beach last summer. “The stench was unbearable and the water was a muddy brown. There was toilet paper in the sand,” he told the paper.
It is a satisfying scenario - some rich footballer or banker having bought an expensive house on one of the artificial islands of “The World”, wading around on their private beach in a stink of toilet paper and excrements …
I see that laughable-Liam Gallagher of Oasis is having a go at the mighty Quo. I never cared for Britpop (apart from Pulp and Suede, but they really were outside the whole Blur/Oasis thing). I never have and never will own an Oasis record (or Dylan, The Stones, U2 and loads of other dross that’s get rated all over).
But Quo? Count me in for ownership of the early ’70s stuff like Dog of Two Head or Piledriver and even an old sampler of their psychedelic-light period.
There should be a place for a smart weekly program on telly covering everything from dubstep, classical, jazz, indie (is there any good indie?), c&w, folk, experimental, pop, etc etc.
Put it on BBC4, get some smart kids in (not fawning indie idiots) and let them run with it. If not - the future visual evidence of new music will be on low quality YouTube videos, and that would be a shame.