dinsdag 20 september 2011

lecture on the 19th of October 2011 at Leiden Univ

Charles C. Mann (19th of October 2011)

writer of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus will give a lecture on the 19th of October 2011 about his newest book with special thanks to Publisher Nieuw Amsterdam and the Faculty of Archaeology.

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

Having resurrected the isolated splendors of the pre-Columbian Americas in his bestselling 1491, Mann explores the global convergences--and upheavals--inaugurated by their discovery in this fascinating survey of the "Homogenocene" era. Mann traces the subtle, epochal influences of the intercontinental "Columbian Exchange" of flora, fauna, commodities, and peoples, showing how European honeybees and earthworms remade New World landscapes; how New World corn, potatoes, and fertilizer ignited Eurasian population booms; how Old World diseases prompted an eruption of slavery in the Western Hemisphere (the influx of Africans, not Europeans, to the Americas, Mann notes, was the main demographic result of the Contact); how Latin American silver undermined China's Ming Dynasty; and how the decimation of Indian peoples changed the world's climate.

To get an impression of the book read The New York Times Review

Fore more detailed information please contact Dr. Alexander Geurds
071-527 2206 or a.geurds@arch.leidenuniv.nl

See: http://www.services-facilities.leiden.edu/studium-generale/activities/charles-c-mann.html

zaterdag 6 augustus 2011


Het boek 1491 van Charles Mann gaat over de vraag hoe het Amerikaanse werelddeel er uit zag vlak voordat Columbus aankwam op de Bahama's.

Want Columbus kwam niet aan in Amerika. Als men met Amerika de Verenigde Staten bedoelt. Columbus is nooit in de Verenigde Staten geweest. Maar hij is in feite ook niet op de Bahama's geweest. Want de Bahama's bestonden in die tijd natuurlijk nog niet.

Sterker, Amerika als continent bestond natuurlijk nog niet. Maar Europa ook niet. In Europa zag men zichzelf vooral als Christenheid. En de Oost-Europeanen waren wel Christelijk maar wel verdacht enigszins verdacht (Grieks-Orthodox).    

woensdag 27 april 2011


Science 26 November 2010: 
Vol. 330 no. 6008 pp. 1170-1171 
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6008.1170

The Fight for Yasuni

View larger version:
    Protected park. 
    Beneath this forest canopy lies a record-setting number of species.
    In 1997, 25 years after the first of many childhood canoe trips with his father down Ecuador's lower Napo River to the Limoncocha Biological Reserve, David Romo returned to find the site trashed beyond recognition. Once a pristine habitat fiercely defended by indigenous hunter-gatherers known as Waorani, the reserve had been overrun by a settlement of farmers who had moved in after construction of an oil-access road. The Waorani were gone, and so were many of the species that had made up the reserve's acclaimed biodiversity. Nowhere were once-common birds such as the grey-winged trumpeters and harpy eagles. The colonists had decimated the lake's fish and caiman populations, and poaching and tree-cutting felled the last primary forest in the area. “The forest was completely destroyed,” Romo, a conservation biologist at Ecuador's San Francisco University of Quito, recounts with dismay.
    Not long after Romo's unhappy return, the lure of oil threatened to bring similar devastation farther south to Ecuador's Yasuni National Park and the adjoining Waorani Ethnic Reserve. In 1989, this 17,000-kilometer section of the Amazon Basin had been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. But it also happens to sit atop Ecuador's second largest reserve of crude oil, a block of concessions collectively known as the Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) field. In 2003, that rich prize spurred plans to build a new oil-access road into the park, instilling fears of a repeat of what happened in Limoncocha. “I realized then that we needed to bolster our conservation efforts with good, credible science if we were to have any chance of saving Yasuni,” says Romo.


    View a slideshow of Yasuni's diverse species.
    Over the past decade, he and more than 50 other biologists working in the area have documented Yasuni's remarkable biodiversity, providing evidence that its forest has the highest number of species on the planet, including an unprecedented core where there are overlapping world richness records for amphibians, reptiles, bats, and trees. And after helping to form a group called Scientists Concerned for Yasuni, Romo and his colleagues have waged an international campaign to protect the location.
    This unabashed science-based advocacy has had an impact. In 2005, the year after the group published a preliminary analysis of Yasuni's biodiversity and recommended its protection, Ecuador's government rejected further road-building inside the park. Two years later, Ecuador President Rafael Correa went even further, offering a proposal in which his country would, in exchange for several billion dollars, keep the ITT oil permanently under ground in order to protect the park and to fight global warming. Industrialized countries would essentially pay to keep the park's oil-derived carbon in the ground.
    After several years of political negotiations and drama, the innovative initiative took a significant step toward reality this summer when the United Nations agreed to oversee a trust fund paid to Ecuador for the project. If all goes according to plan, the initiative may serve as a model for preserving intact biodiversity in other oil-rich portions of the western Amazon. But that's a big “if”: President Correa has vowed to allow drilling if the international community fails to compensate Ecuador sufficiently.

    Finding “megadiversity”

    The magnitude of Yasuni's species richness first became evident in 1992 when the Maxus oil company hired botanists to salvage plant specimens during construction of a new road entering the northwest section of the park, which borders Colombia and Peru. It was a thrilling and yet exceedingly difficult task, recalls Nigel Pitman, a tropical biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who in 1999 completed an inventory of 1500 different species of trees. “Getting familiar with the trees can take years,” says Pitman, “and even then it means making up your own names for the dozens of species that are new to science. … It isn't even diversity any longer—it's hyperdiversity, or megadiversity.”
    But if field inventories were beginning to reveal the forest's extreme diversity, no one in the 1990s was synthesizing the voluminous, unwieldy mass of independently conducted plot-based studies into an overall picture of Yasuni's biodiversity. “People came to this area to do their research and left,” says Holger Kreft of the Georg-August University of Göttingen in Germany, who has found that among lowland forests, Yasuni holds the record for most species of epiphytes: plants that grow on plants. “There wasn't anything approaching a network of scientists.”
    That changed after 2003 when the Brazilian national oil company Petrobras announced plans for a new 54-kilometer road into an isolated section of the park that would give access to the ITT oil fields. It was already clear that the Maxus road had provided an entry point for people to colonize the forest and for illegal logging in the park's northwest section, says ecologist Matt Finer, whose Yasuni postdoctoral research quickly shifted to campaigning once he discovered little if any organized opposition to Petrobras's new plans.
    To conservation biologist Margot Bass, the announcement by Petrobras, one of the largest companies in the world, seemed like an irrevocable death sentence for Yasuni park. “I despaired,” says Bass, an executive director of Finding Species, a small environmental group, who had worked in the park in the late 1990s.
    Nevertheless, she and Finer, now with the Washington, D.C.–based environmental group Save America's Forests, rallied together a who's who of leading tropical ecologists, organizing a 2-day conference in October 2004 at which attendees detailed the biodiversity significance of Yasuni and illustrated how the previous Maxus road had spurred deforestation. The researchers followed up with intense lobbying. “This was not pure science,” says Luis Suarez, head of Conservation International's Ecuador office, who was not part of the group. “They decided to take a position and produce not only a scientific paper but also write letters, give presentations, and basically put Yasuni on the agenda.”
    Despite scientific and legal challenges, Petrobras began road construction and was on the verge of entering the park when, at the end of April 2005, President Lucio Gutierrez was deposed after massive protests of his plans to revamp Ecuador's Supreme Court. By July, the new government had revoked the oil company's permit for the road. Soon thereafter, President Correa stepped forward with his ITT proposal. “We kept so much heat on the issue that it gave bigger and better funded organizations time to try and put together a really systematic plan for the region,” says Bass.

    A Copenhagen setback

    In the 3 years since Correa floated the Yasuni trust fund plan, oil exploration has progressed nearby—in eastern Ecuador and across the border in southwest Colombia and northern Peru—and scientists working at Tiputini Biodiversity Station, one of two university-affiliated research stations in the park, say it's as if an unstoppable force is closing in. “Tiputini is still very remote,” says Christian Voigt, an animal behavioral physiologist, “but you can hear the generator of an oil platform from a few kilometers' distance, and at night you can see the glow of the gas flame.”
    Yasuni's advocates have pressed on with amassing proof of its biodiversity riches, hoping such data will persuade the international community to pay for the park's protection. In January, Bass, Finer, Kreft, Pitman, and their colleagues published a data-rich, collaborative analysis in PLoS ONE that confirmed the existence within Yasuni of a so-called quadruple richness center. This 28,000-km2 plot encompasses peak species records for amphibians, birds, mammals, and tree communities. “Yasuni is probably unmatched by any other park in the world in total number of species. Both our species-distribution maps and our comprehensive analysis of existing field inventories support this finding,” says Bass.
    View larger version:
      Make a deal. 
      If paid billions of dollars, Ecuador will prevent oil exploration in Yasuni.
      The area around the Tiputini station, for example, has smashed the world record for local amphibian diversity, with its 139 species far exceeding the 98 documented in Leticia, Colombia, the previous record-holder. And for insects, Yasuni's estimated 100,000 species per hectare represents the highest biodiversity, per unit area, in the world for any taxonomic group.
      Those who have made Yasuni their research home, and their mission, expected that Correa's initiative would get off the ground at the Copenhagen climate summit last December. But the Ecuadorian government questioned whether it had enough authority over the trust fund, and no deal was struck then, infuriating the country's environmental and scientific communities. “There was, already, Germany committing $50 million per year for 10 years,” an angry Romo recalled this spring, hands waving in the air. “We had letters of intent from at least five other countries—and now you say you want to go to OPEC and ask them for the money. That's betrayal!”
      Emotions have cooled since then, and in August Ecuador signed an agreement enacting the governance arrangements on a deal to keep Yasuni oil fields untapped in exchange for a minimum $3.6 billion in payments (about half the value of the oil if sold) from industrialized countries over the next 13 years. The United Nations Development Programme, which will oversee the trust fund, has suggested that the agreement could serve as a model for protecting ecosystems around the world.
      However, numerous questions about the effort remain, particularly in regards to the composition of the government-dominated board tasked with dispensing the trust fund's monies for conservation and reforestation projects, sustainable energy development, and livelihood-training programs for the local indigenous communities. There are fears, for example, that indigenous representatives will be excluded from the decision-making process.
      The biggest uncertainty remains funding. Chile has already committed $100,000, and Ecuador's vice president had said that Belgium, Spain, Turkey, and China have also offered money. But no official pledges from those countries have been announced, and in September, Germany signaled it was rethinking its vital commitment of nearly one-sixth of the needed total. If $100 million isn't paid into the United Nations fund by December 2011, Ecuador can refund any contributions—and analysts say Correa will then surely move to develop Yasuni's oil fields.
      Although he's nervous about whether the international community will fill the trust fund, Romo says he believes that the Yasuni researchers have so far succeeded in a way that cannot be ignored, providing justification for the region's continued conservation. “What caught the world's attention is the science,” says Romo. “But the clock is running and we cannot get distracted.”

      zondag 6 maart 2011

      Maya writing, escritura maya, L'écriture maya, escrita maia, Mayaschrift

      Introduction to Maya Hieroglyphs by Harri Kettunen & Christophe Helmke (Wayeb/Mesoweb 2010): http://www.mesoweb.com/resources/handbook/WH2010.pdf

      Introducción a los Jeroglíficos Mayas por Harri Kettunen & Christophe Helmke. Traducción al español: Verónica Amellali Vázquez López & Juan Ignacio Cases Martín: http://www.mesoweb.com/es/recursos/intro/JM2010.pdf

      Introduction aux Hiéroglyphes Mayas (Harri Kettunen, Christophe Helmke. Traduction française:
      Ramzy R. Barrois): http://www.mesoweb.com/resources/handbook/MG2010-Fr.pdf


      A court in Brazil has approved a controversial hydro-electric project in the Amazon rainforest, overturning an earlier ruling.
      Last week a judge blocked construction of the Belo Monte dam, saying it did not meet environmental standards.
      But a higher court on Thursday said there was no need for all conditions to be met in order for work to begin.
      Critics say the project threatens wildlife and will make thousands of people homeless.
      The Monte Belo dam is a cornerstone of President Dilma Rousseff's plan to upgrade Brazil's energy infrastructure.
      Controversial plan
      Licences still have to be granted for the actual building of the plant, but in January, Brazilian environment agency Ibama gave the go-ahead to clear land at the site.
      The government says the dam is crucial for development and will create jobs, as well as provide electricity to 23 million homes.
      The 11,000-megawatt dam would be the third biggest in the world - after the Three Gorges in China and Itaipu, which is jointly run by Brazil and Paraguay.
      It has long been a source of controversy, with bidding halted three times before the state-owned Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco was awarded the contract last year.
      Celebrities such as the singer Sting and film director James Cameron have joined environmentalists in their campaign against the project.
      They say the 6km (3.7 miles) dam will threaten the survival of a number of indigenous groups and could make some 50,000 people homeless, as 500 sq km (190 sq miles) of land would be flooded.
      Depois de, na semana passada, o projecto ter sido suspenso por um juiz, uma instância superior dá o “OK” para o início das obras daquela que vai ser a 3ª maior barragem do mundo e que tem gerado controvérsia por colocar em risco a Biodiversidade e vários grupos de indígenas.
      Aparentemente, as obras para a construção da mega-barragem na Amazónia que tinham sido suspensas por decisão de um juiz na semana passada, podem avançar, depois de um tribunal de uma instância superior ter anulado essa decisão, alegando que nem todos os requisitos ambientais têm de ser cumpridos
      A barragem de Belo Monte será o terceiro maior empreendimento hidroeléctrico do mundo e tem gerado controvérsia porque destruirá uma parte significativa da floresta da Amazónia afectando a Biodiversidade e vários grupos indígenas que habitam na região.
      O projecto, que surgiu nos anos 90 mas foi abandonado devido aos impactos ambientais, faz parte dos planos da Presidente Dlma Rousseff para modernizar a rede energética do Brasil e foi aprovado pelo IBAMA em Janeiro de 2010.
      Com uma potência associada de 11 mil MW, a barragem de Belo Monte fornecerá electricidade a 23 milhões de lares. Será instalada no Rio Xingu e implicará a submersão de 500Km2 de selva ao longo de 6Km.


      Bouw omstreden megadam Amazonegebied gaat toch door

      Dankzij een Braziliaanse hogere rechtbank mag de bouw van ’s werelds derde grootste dam toch doorgaan. Het draaide een besluit van een rechter vorige week terug over het stilleggen van de bouw van een megadam in Altamira. 

      Er zou niet zijn voldaan aan 29 voorwaarden van natuurbehoud zoals het herstel van verontreinigde grond en het waarborgen van de bevaarbaarheid van rivieren. Maar de hoge rechter zegt nu dat er in elk geval mag worden doorgegaan met het vrijmaken van het stuk land dat nodig is bij de Xingu-rivier. Volgens hem is het op dit moment nog niet nodig dat aan alle voorwaarden wordt voldaan.

      De lokale bevolking is tegen de bouw van de waterkrachtcentrale omdat tienduizenden dakloos zouden worden. Maar de regering claimt dat de dam 23 miljoen huishoudens van stroom kan voorzien en voor veel werkgelegenheid zal zorgen. De dam kost 11 miljard dollar en produceert 11.000 megawatt produceren.


      zaterdag 26 februari 2011

      Brazil court halts Amazon dam

      Brazil court halts Amazon dam
      Judge orders suspension of hydroelectric plant in the Amazon, citing environemental concerns.

      A Brazilian court has ordered the suspension of a massive hydroelectric dam project in the rain forest, citing environmental concerns.

      Ronaldo Desterro, a federal judge said in a statement posted on a court website Friday night that environmental agency Ibama erred last month when it approved work to begin on the dam.

      The statement cites 29 environmental conditions that allegedly have not been met, such as the recovery of degraded areas and measures to guarantee the navigability of rivers.

      The massive Belo Monte hydroelectric plant in the Amazon jungle state of Para would be the third-largest hydroelectric dam in the world.

      But the $11bn project has sparked protests in Brazil and abroad over its impact on the environment and native Indian tribes in the region.

      The government says the dam will provide clean, renewable energy and is essential to fuel Brazil's growing economy.

      Public works projects in Brazil often face legal challenges, but many court injunctions are overturned quickly.

      If this one is upheld, the ruling could spell a serious setback to the plans of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's president, for large investment in infrastructure projects.

      The Norte Energia consortium building the dam is led by Brazilian state-controlled power utility Eletrobras.

      The consortium said it would not comment on the decision because it had not yet been officially notified.
      Brazil court halts Amazon dam - Americas - Al Jazeera English

      vrijdag 25 februari 2011

      Panamá 2

      Los indígenas panameños bloquean la vía Panamericana en rechazo de la Ley de minería
      Panamá, 24 feb (EFE).- Cientos de indígenas panameños de la etnia Ngäbe Buglé bloquearon hoy durante tres horas la carretera Panamericana, en el occidente del país, para exigir la derogación de la Ley de reforma al Código Minero que, aseguran, atenta contra los recursos naturales en las comarcas.
      La vía Panamericana que fue cerrada en varios de sus tramos ubicados entre los límites de las provincias de Veraguas (centro) y Chiriquí (occidente), unos 400 kilómetros al oeste de la capital, fue reabierta por los nativos sin incidentes.
      Empero, entrada la noche la vía en San Félix, Chiriquí, fue bloqueada parcialmente otra vez por un incidente relacionado con el atropello a un menor indígena por un auto conducido por una pareja de costarricenses, dijo a Efe un testigo del hecho.
      Asimismo, en la capital unos indígenas que realizaban un plantón frente al Parlamento panameño retuvieron a un nativo identificado como el cacique Johny Bonilla, acusándolo de "traidor" por haber llegado presuntamente a acuerdos con el Gobierno en el tema minero.
      En la ciudad de David, capital de Chiriquí, así como en Changuinola, en la provincia de Bocas del Toro, en el litoral Caribe limítrofe con Costa Rica, en Pacora, al este de la capital y en Colón, norte, también hubo protestas y cierres de vías por parte de los nativos.
      Rogelio Montezuma, uno de los líderes de la protesta en San Felix, dijo que fue exitosa y que mañana volverán a bloquear la carretera para exigir la presencia en el lugar del presidente panameño, Ricardo Martinelli, para hablar sobre el tema minero.
      En San Félix, unos 8.000 indígenas realizaron el 15 de febrero una protesta contra las reformas a la Ley minera en la que el viceministro panameño de Trabajo, Luis Ernesto Carles, fue hostigado y zarandeado por los manifestantes, con los que pretendía dialogar.
      Martinelli dijo hoy a los periodistas que las protestas no se justifican porque no habrá explotación minera en las comarcas en lo que resta de su gestión (2009-2014), al tiempo que reiteró su llamado al diálogo a los indígenas.
      El gobernante dijo que estaría de acuerdo en ir a la Comarca, pero recalcó que su Gobierno no tiene "ningún interés" en desarrollar la minería en esta y otras zonas indígenas del país.
      Martinelli denunció que en estas protestas están inmiscuidos "intereses políticos de algunas personas que quieren crear el caos y el desasosiego, que no les interesa que Panamá progrese".
      Los indígenas, por otra parte, rechazan al acuerdo al que el Gobierno llegó el lunes con algunas autoridades de la comarca indígena, en el que se comprometió a no explotar el yacimiento de cobre de Cerro Colorado, uno de los mayores del mundo, ni desarrollar la minería durante el tiempo que dure su mandato.
      Los nativos Ngäbe Buglé se oponen a la explotación de Cerro Colorado, situado en su comarca, por el riesgo de contaminación de los acuíferos, la deforestación y el temor a ser desplazados de sus tierras.
      Los sindicatos y organizaciones estudiantiles, principalmente de izquierda, rechazan la reforma porque introdujo la posibilidad de que otros Estados, por medio de sociedades anónimas mixtas, puedan participar en los proyectos de explotación minera en Panamá.
      El Gobierno defiende la Ley de reformas mineras, entre otros puntos, porque aumenta la regalía por extracción de cobre, oro y plata, de 2% al 5%; penaliza la minería ilegal con multas de hasta 250.000 dólares, y sube las fianzas en las concesiones de exploración de 10 centavos de dólar por hectárea a 50 dólares.
      Otro punto sobresaliente, según el Gobierno, es que las corporaciones privadas en concesión no podrán nunca dar garantías sobre los terrenos concesionados.
      La Ley establece, además, que toda empresa que solicite una concesión o explotación minera debe incluir en el estudio de impacto ambiental el plan de cierre y abandono de las actividades mineras.