Hide this

What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Posts Tagged ‘Green Blues’

  • coral polyps frozen sperm

    Frozen Coral Sperm Holds Promise in a Boiling World

    Life is bleak and bleached for many of the world’s corals. Fatal bleaching events triggered by warming seas have become common from the Caribbean to Australia. More worrying still is climate change-related ocean acidification, which hampers coral’s ability to build their calcium carbonate skeletons. Helped along by pollution, disease, and overfishing, scientists predict that these threats may destroy most of the world’s corals by 2050.

    Mary Hagedorn, a biologist at the Smithsonian Institution, hopes to help reefs hedge their bets by building a library of coral sperm. Dr. Hagedorn has already collected and frozen an estimated one trillion coral sperm, in hopes that they may one day be used to restore genetic diversity to damaged reefs. This effort is in keeping with other cryopreservation banks such as the San Diego Frozen Zoo or the Svalbard Seed Vault that buffer the earth’s biota against manmade environmental catastrophe.

    Operating under a limited budget, Dr. Hagedorn is facing an uphill battle. There are well over 1,000 species of coral on earth, not to mention the fact that freezing equally important eggs is significantly more difficult than freezing sperm. While an “archive” approach to conservation may not be as effective as adequately protecting habitats, in the case of corals, in may be their best chance at avoiding extinction.

    Via the New York Times. Photo via Quinet.

  • veggie_dress

    Salad Dress

    Hey there green fanatics! Push your organic-sustainable-veggie-lifestyle in the overdrive with the Salad Dress, created by Sara Hillenberger. No pollution, no child labor and no animals where hurt making of this dress. Its a 100% utopian green.

  • snow ball earth under km of ice

    Is Life on Earth Suicidal?

    At Next Nature, we often argue that “our image of nature as static, balanced and harmonious is naive and up for reconsideration.” Paleontologist Peter J. Ward happens to agree. In a challenge to the Gaia hypothesis, which holds that all life functions as nurturing, super-organismal “mother”, Ward argues that life on earth has a death wish that would do Freud proud.

    Ward claims that, contrary to popular images of cataclysmic asteroids and volcanoes, most mass extinctions on earth were set in motion by microbes.  2.4 billion years ago, microscopic cyanobacteria emerged newly equipped with photosynthesis and triggered the Great Oxygenation Event. While great for aerobic organisms, it was fatal news for anaerobic life, which had up until then had free reign over the planet. The sudden release of oxygen is also likely what set off the Huronian Glaciation, a deadly “snowball earth” that kept the planet locked in ice for 300 million years.

    Read more »

  • YouTube Preview Image

    Arne Hendriks – Incredible Shrinking Man

    The human population is expected to grow to 9 billion within this century. As a result we need more energy, more food and more space. If we continue our current consumptive patterns we soon need three planets. But what if we could turn this trend around?

    Artist Arne Hendriks explores the possibilities and implications of downsizing the human species to better fit the earth. Can we do it?

  • krill on finger

    Watch Out Whales, Humans Want Your Krill

    Krill, those tiny members of the ocean’s planktonic community, have an importance disproportionate to their size. They are a vital food for whales, penguins and increasingly, humans. Demand for krill-based animal feed and 0mega-3 fatty acids is leading to a “gold rush” in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica.

    Harvesting krill is the outcome of a decades-long trend of “fishing down the food web“. After humans decimated large oceanic organisms like tuna and swordfish, global fisheries have turned to smaller and less desirable species. Lobster, for instance, was once fed to prisoners, while cod was once so plentiful it was used as fertilizer. Now, fisheries are increasingly snapping up ‘bait fish’ like anchovies, mackerel and menhaden. The fact that commercial fishermen are now turning to krill, even jellyfish, indicates we may be scooping up the last and least tasty fish in the sea.

    Read more »

  • Munich Beer Hall During Oktoberfest

    Essay: Next What?

    In this essay, anti-civilization, anarchist philosopher John Zerzan critiques the concept of ‘next nature.’ He argues that rather than freeing us, our self-domestication through technology has created a disconnected, depressed and over-medicated population. Phenomena from global warming to workplace shootings are all symptoms of global human “progress” gone totally awry. If we abandon ‘technology’ in favor of ‘tools’, what are the next steps for humanity? 


    Next Nature “refers to the nature produced by humans and their technology.” The prevailing attitude of Next Nature is “techno-optimism.”

    What is the nature of this “nature” and what are the grounds for the optimism?

    I’ll start by citing some recent technological phenomena and what they seem to indicate about the nature and direction of our technoculture. We’re already increasingly inhabitants of a technosphere, so let’s look at some of its actual offerings.

    A virtual French-kissing machine was unveiled in 2011. The Japanese device somehow connects tongues via a plastic apparatus. There is also a type of vest with sensors that transmits virtual “hugs.” From the Senseg Corporation in Finland comes “E-Sense” technology, which replicates the feeling of texture. Simulating touch itself! Are we not losing our grounding as physical beings as these developments advance?

    In some nursing homes now, the elderly are bathed in coffin-shaped washing machines. No human touch required. And as to the mourning process, it is now argued that online grieving is a better mode. Less intrusive, no need to be physically present for the bereaved! There is an iPhone application now available called the “baby cry app.” For those who wire their baby’s room to be alerted when she stirs, this invention tells parents what the baby’s cry means: hungry, wet, etc. (there are five choices). Just think, after about two million years of human parenting, at last we have a machine to tell us why our child is crying. Isn’t this all rather horrific?

    Read more »

  • helicopter antarctica

    The Sound of Silence? An Aircraft Engine.

    Silence is a thing of the past. Just as no place has been left untouched by climate change, there is no place on earth that is not ‘polluted’ by the sounds of planes, ships, and cars. In Alaska’s Denali State Park, as true a ‘wilderness’ as any other, the sound of an airplane engine can be heard around 80 times each day. In the ocean, marine mammals fight to be heard above the sound of  and military sonar and ships’ propellers. Whales and dolphins that live on shipping lanes exhibit elevated stress hormones. Songbirds, such as these robins, have adapted to sing louder to compete with traffic, or have switched to singing at night when the human population is asleep.

    The last of the auditory wilderness disappeared in 1949. Scientists are now concerned that the sounds animals rely on for survival – the skitter of a prey species hidden in its burrow, the snaps and croaks of a coral reef – are being drowned out in the cacophony of the Anthropocene.

  • petridishes_1

    Will Eugenics Become an Acceptable Strategy to Avoid Climate Change?

    Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of today and various scenarios, ranging from artificial trees, pollution trading, co2 capturing to geo-engineering, have been proposed to cope with planetary heating. Most of these existing strategies, however, focus on the altering our environment, but as global warming is inflicted by people, why not start at the root of the issue and change humanity itself to cope with climate change?

    Recently New York University bioethics professor S Matthew Liao published a paper (PDF) in Ethics, Policy and the Environment arguing that one way to tackle the challenges of a rise in energy use is to modify humanity to simply use less energy.

    The researchers argue biomedical modifications of humans so that they can reduce and/or adapt to climate change is potentially less risky than geo-engineering. They suggests a range of ways to achieve this, from creating an aversion to meat by giving diners a mild intolerance to it, to using gene therapy to create smaller children.

    Although eugenics, the deliberate “improvement” of the genetic composition of people, has been in disfavor since its mid-20th century association with Nazi Germany, the researchers argue it “deserves further consideration in the debate about climate change”. Apparently radical problems require radical measures? Certainly next nature causes more next nature.

    Via Wired. Download the entire paper (PDF)

  • children's books cities

    Nature Disappears from Childrens’ Books

    In an analysis of Caldecott Medal winning children’s books, sociologist Allen Williams recently discovered that depictions of nature have dramatically declined from 1938 to 2008. Looking at 8,000 images in 296 books, Williams and his team found that, early on, illustrations tended to be evenly split between natural and built environments. The balance tipped towards the human realm in the 1970s, and now, the depiction of completely natural environments has all but disappeared from Caldecott books. Characters’ interactions with wild animals declined steadily, as did the use of any animal, wild or domestic, as a protagonist.

    Williams only examined Caldecott winners, so the trends he uncovered may only reflect the tastes of the librarians that award the medal, rather than accurately reflecting the publishing market. However, along with the disappearance of “nature” words from children’s dictionaries, this finding indicates that nature deficit disorder may be a top-down imposition. Why socialize kids to enjoy the outdoors when the iPad is already the world’s most compact playground?

    Image via Choo Cha Handmade.

  • The Living Room

    The private atmosphere of a Dutch living room is interrupted by the disturbing presence of a large oak tree that slowly enters the room.

    Made by roderickhietbrink.nl

  • huge crowd of people

    Welcome to Earth, Number 7,000,000,000!

    Today marks another milestone in the march of the Anthropocene. According to United Nations demographers, the seven billionth person on Earth arrived today, just in time to put on a tiny halloween costume (might we suggest an adorably endangered tuna?). It’s taken just 12 years to add the last billion people, and even with slowing birth rates, it will still take us only 14 years to add another billion more.

    What does the burgeoning population of Homo sapiens mean for our overloaded planet? Learn more about the global effects of the Anthropocene here and here. If you’re in the Amsterdam area on November 5th, Christian Schwägerl will be giving a talk on the “Age of Man” at the Next Nature Power Show.

    Image via Looking to Business.

  • Ecological Insecticide

    Ecological Insecticide

    Ecological insecticide allows you to extinguish-nature in a nature-friendly way. It nicely illustrates the “I love nature, but not in my backyard” attitude, so popular nowadays. Peculiar paradoxical product of the week.

  • dubai the globe sinking

    The Earth on Loan

    Christian Schwägerl is a correspondent for Der Spiegel and the author of Menschenzeit (The Age of Man). He will be presenting his views on the Anthropocene at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th. Learn more about the Anthropocene here.

    We move mountainsmake islands, create life, and call up lolcats at whim from the greatest storehouse of human knowledge ever compiled. Yet we can’t seem to control the economy.

    In a recent opinion piece at Yale Environment 360, journalist and author Christian Schwägerl argues that the financial collapse and the environmental collapse stem from the same mistakes of human foresight. The financial crisis was triggered by a pass-the-buck thinking, with blindly optimistic (or darkly cynical) reliance on proliferating loans that no one ever expected to pay back. The problem only became apparent when there were no more suckers left to exploit. We ran the economy down to its lowest trophic level, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the global ecology as well.

    Read more »

  • plantbottle

    Bottle Plant

    The Coca-Cola introduces the PlantBottle. Partially made of plants, this bottle is 100% recyclable. Next step will be a natural bottle fully growing on a plant. In the meanwhile, I am still waiting for my Organic Coke.

  • voeding_vanalles

    Essay: The Story of our Food

    Every time we eat a piece of food, we take a bite out of the world. All these small bites tell a dozen stories. A carton of eggs presents the story of contented hens, a bottle of olive oil the tale of Italian grandmothers. Yet these pastoral scenes barely hide the realities of a food system that leaves one billion people starving and another billion overweight. Moving beyond food-based fictions, how should we react to the truth?

    By Maartje Somers

    It happened in a trendy restaurant. A breadbasket and a small bowl of olives had just been brought to the table. Our hands reached out to take some, when the waitress stopped us. “Wait,” she interrupted, “I have to explain the bread.” Explain the bread? Yes, that one variety of bread had been baked with hard durum wheat from a village just south of Tuscany, the other one came from a bakery slightly north of Amsterdam. The olives were kalamata olives, imported from Thessaloniki, and olivas violadas (olives ‘raped’ by an almond) from Basque Country in Spain. It took the waitress about five minutes to finish her lecture. Then, finally we could dig in.

    All our food comes with a story to tell, and usually it is the story we want to hear. In the supermarket the story is about the price of the food, in a restaurant it is about the taste and the origin.

    These days all our food comes with a story to tell. Usually it is the story we want to hear. In the supermarket the story is about the price of food, in a restaurant or delicatessen it is about taste and origin. Very often stories about food focus on authenticity. That is the way food would like to be – authentic and natural – like in the old days when people harvested their own crops. And this is exactly what we want to believe. The jam in my fridge has ‘a natural taste’ and the milk is ‘pure and honest.’ Eat colour, it says on the posters in the street, displaying juicy red peppers. And these shiny vegetables almost jump from the page in the cookbooks by Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, bestsellers the world over. But at the same time we are buying more and more ready-made meals.

    Read more »

  • gowanus canal toxic mud

    Evolutionary Janitors

    We normally think of polluted water as the source of disease, not the cure for it. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, affectionately known as the Super Fun Superfund, is one of the most polluted bodies of water in America. Most of the water is too low in oxygen to support plant or animal life. Worse still is the toxic mud at the bottom of the canal, rich in lead, dioxins, and mercury from decades of unchecked dumping from heavy industry.

    Read more »

  • power line trees

    Electric Topiary

    Has this tree gone Pac-Man on the power lines? In truth, the slice through the side of the tree is the work of ‘utility pruning.’  Topiary was once determined on entirely aesthetic lines, be it geometric shapes in formal gardens or more whimsical forms of animals or people. Now, the inadvertent topiaries of electricity are a common sight: the oak split down the middle, the pine with its top lopped off, the elm with an entire side of branches shaved away. It represents a curious compromise.  Rather than being cut down, the tree is permitted to coexist with the utility cables.  Along with insects, lightning strikes, and wind, power lines are now an important factor in how the landscape grows.

    Image via The Small Wave 2

  • yellow sac spider

    Cheiracanthium drives a Mazda

    In March, Mazda recalled 65,000 cars, not because of any structural faults in the vehicle, but because the engineers had inadvertently created the perfect habitat for a tiny spider.  The yellow sac spider, capable of inflicting a painful bite, was inexorably drawn to build webs in the car’s evaporative canister vent line. The spider’s nest could restrict the line, raising pressure in the fuel tank and eventually leading to a crack.  It may be that the species is attracted to the smell of hydrogen oxide in gasoline, or it could just be that the little arachnids think Americans need to do a better job of carpooling.

    Arthropods have a distinguished history of gumming up our most precise pieces of technology. The first computer bug was a brown moth that got stuck in Harvard’s Relay Calculator in 1947.  I remember battling the ants that took up residence in my laptop in the Philippines, and a quick Google search shows that computer-nerd ants are a common complaint. Technology may be designed for humans, but it’s used by the entire ecosystem.

    Via The Consumerist.  Image via UW Madison Department of Etymology.