The fortieth anniversary of America’s hasty retreat from Vietnam is upon us. A true memetic moment, that frantic, April 25, 1975 escape from the US Embassy rooftop is engraved in popular consciousness (Courtesy of The Simpsons, for those in their twenties and thirties).
Picture a landscape buried beneath a sky-high heap of dead plants and animal corpses. This is what Earth’s surface would look like if it weren’t for fungi. Fungi are the biosphere’s recyclers. It’s an activity that fills us with horror when the material being recycled is damp basement drywall or the moist, warm skin between our toes, but one that human society depends upon absolutely.
Mention Rwanda to someone, what comes first to their mind? Bloody genocide, most likely; certainly not swank men’s fashion. Think again. Over the past year, two Dutch entrepreneurs have been marketing boldly colored made-in-Rwanda men’s blazers in clothing shops across the Netherlands, under the trade name Afriek. First they take Amsterdam — then they take Berlin.
So-called “industrial economies” on Earth value money above all else, while squandering finite resources and poisoning their little blue-green planet.
Think about resources crucial to human survival. What comes to mind? Fresh, clean water for sure. Food tops the list. Earth’s primary living products – plants that grow from seeds – are the foundation of humanity’s food supply. Wheat, barley, oats, corn, potatoes and a dizzying variety of beans and legumes … Conserving these seeds of survival is one of humanity’s greatest challenges.
In the rolling foothills of the Canadian Rockies, where cattle peacefully graze and ranchers retire to handsome chalets, a purple haze hovers. Gases burned off in the course of “completing” southern Alberta’s thousand-odd hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells are being blamed not only for air pollution, but for a litany of health complaints. Local resident are calling for air monitoring.
Rising seas linked to global climate change pose a major threat to coastal cities around the world. In southeastern Europe, the UK, US and elsewhere, recent disastrous flood events have led to calls for new solutions. Who better to turn to for ideas than the Dutch? Over the past decade, Dutch engineers and planners have been devising nature-based flood control systems that are cheap, effective and environmentally friendly.
Palestinian leaders are gearing up to take Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague — a move Washington and its beloved ally will vociferously denounce and attempt to block. Do Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, its settlement enterprise and assault on Gaza violate international law? Have Palestinian militants violated the laws of war by firing missiles at Israel? Listen to a trio of international jurists commenting on these matters.
Of all the acts committed by German troops at the start of World War One, none sparked more outrage within European and North American intellectual circles than the destruction of the medieval library of the Flemish University of Leuven – laid to waste on the night of August 25, 1914, a hundred years ago. Together with the nearby “Martyr Cities” of Dendermonde and Aarschot, Leuven is poised to commemorate those events.