published
Sept 30, 2010
112 pages

The theme of this special issue generated massive response among KJ contributors. We added extra pages to the print magazine distributed at COP10, and posted an additional 35 other articles on KJ’s website, downloadable as PDFs. They remain available here:
KJ 75 Special Online Features

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KJ 75, BIODIVERSITY: This richly informative and lavishly illustrated special issue, edited by Stewart Wachs and designed by John Einarsen, features wide-ranging contributions by more than 50 writers, photographers and artists, specially prepared for distribution in fall 2010 at COP10 in Nagoya, the UN’s 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). An extensive 22-page section explores the ideal – and troubling present-day reality – of Japan’s satoyama: rural areas where people have lived with the land and on it without spoiling it over many generations, preserving and even promoting biodiversity. Plus over 30 additional diverse exclusive online reports — all downloadable.

Contents

NATURAL CONVERSATIONS – Robert Brady

I’ve gotten pretty good at Frogonian over the years, and about this time of year I usually have my first frog conversation.

EVOKING EARTH’S IMMUNE RESPONSE TO MEGA-CORPORATE MALADIES – W. David Kubiak

In sum, the biosphere is being collectively ravaged by huge corporate bodies protected by purchased politics and united in their hostility to growth limits and environmental costs. Equally grim, biodiversity’s last line of defense is manned by scattered environmental forces too divided by their issues to devise joint battle plans and discover their true strength.

JOY – Satish Kumar

From evolution we learn that we must protect unity by allowing it to manifest in trillions of forms. Yet instead of unity, our civilization too often creates uniformity, and in place of diversity, divisions.

SIX THOUSAND LESSONS – Barry Lopez

Over the years, in speaking with Eskimo people — Yup’ik and Inupiat in Alaska and Inuit in Canada — I came to understand that they prefer to avoid the way we use collective nouns in the West to speak about a species.

HALFWAY THERE – Anthony D. Barnosky

The Big 5 refers to five — and only five — extremely unusual times in the past 550 million years. Times when at least 75% of Earth’s species went extinct in a geological instant.

THE WONDER OF LIFE – Sam Levin

Carry this magazine outside, open to this page. Step off your front porch, or stoop, or whatever you have, and look around. What do you see?

BACK – Isabella Kirkland

The plants and animals in this picture have gone to the brink of extinction and been carefully husbanded back, or were presumed extinct and then re-found.

COP10: COP OUT OR COEVOLVE?– Eric Johnston

Delegates, when you arrive in Nagoya, Japan this October for the UN’s 10th conference on biodiversity, you’ll be meeting at a decisive moment. For the agreements you reach, or fail to, at COP10 may well determine whether many forms of life survive or die out — including the large-brained, spiritually-inclined but as yet self-defeating, tool-making ape — a relative newcomer to this biodiverse world.

FOUR SCENARIOS – The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment

The MA’s findings, contained in five technical volumes and six synthesis reports, provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, and the options to restore, conserve or enhance the sustainable use of ecosystems.

THE NATURE OF VALUE AND THE VALUE OF NATURE – Pavan Sukhdev

An economist wrote that some things have a huge value, but they’re not very useful — a diamond, for example — and that other things are very useful, such as water, but they don’t seem to have a very high value. What he was really saying is that human beings have neither addressed the nature of value nor indeed the value of nature.

THE ECOZOIC ERA – Thomas Berry

The Cenozoic period is being terminated by a massive extinction of living forms that is taking place on a scale equaled only by the extinctions that took place at the end of the Paleozoic around 220 million years ago and at the end of the Mesozoic some 65 million years ago.

THE HIDDEN FOREST – Noda Michiyo

Even as new discoveries are being made about these underwater forests and grasslands, they are rapidly vanishing. Seaweeds are extremely sensitive to changes in water temperature, rendering them vulnerable to global warming.

NATURE IS NONLINEAR – George Sugihara

Scientific tools and conceptions built to work well in controlled engineering contexts — involving simple and stable clockwork mechanical devices — do not work well in natural systems, where nonlinear instability is literally a fact of life.

MAPPING THE BIOSPHERE: 10 GRAND CHALLENGES FOR THE NEXT DECADE – Quentin Wheeler

Unless and until we have discovered and described a preponderance of Earth’s species, our knowledge of biodiversity will remain inadequate to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing planet.

2020 VISION: REINVENTING CONSERVATION MEDIA – Peter Cairns

Forty-two percent of UK respondents in a recent Gallup poll had never heard of biodiversity. Only 27 percent knew what it meant. Now, either I’m missing something or these are alarming statistics.

WHAT CAN SPRING FROM A GOOD IDEA – Sam Stier

Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts on Earth.

The biological world with its ecological interactions is this world, our very own world. Thus, ecology (with its root meaning of “household science”) is very close to economics, with its root meaning of “household management.”

BIODIVERSITY IS A PRACTICE Susan Murphy

Not only do each of us, in our human consciousness, “contain multitudes,” as Walt Whitman put it, but the practice of biodiversity recognizes that we are personally diminished with every species loss.

SEEING THE FOREST AND THE TREES: SHINTO SCHOLAR/PRIEST UEDA MASAKI – Christal Whelan

In Japan, divinities might be of mountain, sea, or river. People find divinities in nature. This religious faith still exists. I think then that we can understand shrines as points in which nature, divinity, and human beings come into contact.

POETRY: WHAT THE TREES SAY Taoli-Ambika Talwar

 

DIVERSITY AND THE GREAT RETELLING – Yuki Koji

Within prayers to the universe during our rituals, within sacred stories about gods, storytellers and listeners, within the world of myth that storytellers entice you to enter, there is a place to create and cultivate caring and love towards nature. The key to coexistence with other living things lies hidden there.

OCEANOCIDE – Claire Nouvian

Fewer than 300 boats in the world are destroying the deep sea, the largest reservoir of biodiversity on Earth. They are wiping off the map deepwater coral reefs and sponge beds thousands of years old.

REJOINING THE EARTH FAMILY: VASUDHAIV KATUMBAKAN – Vandana Shiva

Humans are part of the planet’s diversity. We are members of the Earth Family ( Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam in Sanskrit) consisting of the diverse species and varieties of microorganisms, plants and animals.

THE REWILDING OF A BANK REFUGEE – Stewart Wachs

Little did I know that my sister-in-law had a yearning to live in true wildness — not the gluttonous savagery of “wild” financial markets, where she formerly made her living, but the natural wildness which, like the best of civilized culture, reminds us of what it means to be human, of what we are linked to rather than separate from.

HOLOCENE IS OVER: SLOW THE WARMING AND BUILD THOSE CORRIDORS – Bill McKibben

Biodiversity, of course, faces an enormous set of challenges in this century, but none so far-reaching as the rapidly rising temperature and all that it implies. Basically, the stable Holocene of the last ten thousand years has come to an end.

TO AVERT CATASTROPHE ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD / TIBET IS THE HIGH GROUND – Helen Mayer Harrison & Newton Harrison

In 30 to 60 years, the seven major rivers flowing from the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau and through Asia, nourishing billions of people in ten countries, will alternately flood and experience drought due to rising temperatures and rapid glacial melt.

Within the standard biological division of higher organisms into two distinct kingdoms — plants and animals — mushrooms fall somewhere in between.

POETRY: PLASTIC – Simmons B. Buntin

 

WHERE THE TIGER SURVIVES, DIVERSITY THRIVES – Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson

The Tiger is in crisis. Once it prowled forests and grasslands stretching to the corners of Asia; today fewer than 4,500 wild tigers remain in just a fraction of their former range.

UNSTILL LIFE WITH MANGOS – John Wythe White

Up in the tree is a spectacle of mass ripening, mangos in every phase of change, like maple leaves in autumn, turning from dark green to crimson to orange to bananaskin yellow.

INCREASING DIVERSITY – Kevin Kelly

If a diverse ecosystem is in good health it will, over time, increase its own diversity. Evolution increases differences. Culture is about accentuating differences.

REWILDING RESTORES HOPE – Caroline Fraser

While many rewilding projects are in their infancy — the European Green Belt, for example, has just begun to restore the former Iron Curtain region as an “ecological backbone” — others have achieved astonishing early results.

AN AVIAN OASIS CREATED BY WAR – Hall Healy

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and adjoining Civilian Control Zone (CCZ), both created by the 1953 ceasefire to the Korean War, are a biodiverse oasis providing an important resting area for cranes and other birds during migrations.

UNDERSTANDING A CRANE – Peter Matthiessen

One way to grasp the main perspectives of environment and biodiversity is to understand the origins and precious nature of a single living form, a single living manifestation of the miracle of existence: if one has truly understood a crane —or a leaf or a cloud or a frog — one has understood everything.

POETRY: WATER PLANET – Michael Shorb

 

SPECIAL SECTION: THE WORLDS OF SATOYAMA

Literally hamlet-mountain, satoyama has become something of a buzzword, and features extensively in Japanese government literature for the October 2010 COP10 conference on biodiversity in Nagoya. Like all buzzwords, satoyama is often used with less than complete comprehension of what the concept really entails. This is problematic, especially given the commendable calls already being made for a “global satoyama.” A more comprehensive understanding of both the ideal of satoyama and the contemporary reality are clearly needed to guide efforts towards a more sustainable society. This satoyama section of KJ 75 aims to contribute to such a clearer understanding.

SMOTHERING STREAMS & HABITATS – Brian Williams

 

NATURE, INHABITED – Winifred Bird

Satoyama describes a rural Japanese landscape made up mainly of managed woodlands and grasslands, rice fields, and the network of waterways and reservoirs associated with them. Underlying those elements, however, satoyama refers to certain principles of living on the land that belong no more to Japan than to any place long and sustainably cultivated by humans.

SATOGAWA: RIVER ARTERIES OF LIFE – Brian Williams

Like all else in the satoyama landscape, the satogawa
(literally ‘hamlet-streams’) were adapted over time to suit human needs. This was done in ways that did not diminish biodiversity but allowed it to flourish in the new configurations.

FIREFLIES Winifred Bird

 

RESTORING A RIVER QUICKLY AND CHEAPLY – Fukudome Shubun

 

SATOUMI: WISE USE OF COASTAL ZONES – SATOUMI: WISE USE OF COASTAL ZONES

Satoumi juxtaposes “village” and “sea” to describe coastal zones — of seas, estuaries or lakes — that are highly biodiverse and productive, yet far from untouched.

INVADERS OF LAKE BIWA – Komori Shigeki

 

PADDY ECOSYSTEMS: DIVERSE OR DESPOILED? – Winifred Bird

 

JAPAN’S ABANDONED SATOYAMA FORESTS – Jane Singer

Gradually the remaining farmers have grown too old and too few to continue trimming branches, cutting undergrowth, and thinning the forests as they should.

BORN OF DESPAIR, A BEAUTIFUL FOREST – C.W. Nicol

 

MYOPIC FOREST POLICY = WEEPY EYES – Jane Singer

 

AFLAME AND ALIVE: MANAGED GRASSLANDS IN JAPAN – Winifred Bird

 

DENUDED HILLSIDES: SATOYAMA’S OTHER HISTORY – Sugiyama Masao

 

ROOM FOR US ALL – Jane Singer and Winifred Bird

Valid doubts persist about whether satoyama has ever been fully realized in its ideal form, or whether a national government whose policies helped to destroy the traditional rural environment has any right to turn round and trumpet that network of integrated ecosystems as a model for the world. But becoming snagged in such debates will distract us from the many tangible and inspiring successes attained by these land-use practices themselves.

Reviews:

Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan, by Azby Brown — Julian Bamford

SATOYAMA: The Traditional Landscape of Japan, by K. Takeuchi et. al — Carl Bareis

The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology, by edited by Alan Drengson and Yuichi Inoue — Richard Evanoff

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity, by edited by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein — Sanya Samac

Earth Pilgrim: Conversations with Satish Kumar, by Satish Kumar — Ted Taylor

The Forgotten Japanese: Encounters with Rural Life and Folklore , by Miyamoto Tsuneichi, trans. Jeffrey S. Irish — Ken Rodgers

A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance, by Andy Couturier — Jennifer Chan

The Japanese Tea Garden, by Marc Peter Keane — Stephen Mansfield

The One Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, by by Masanobu Fukuoka, trans. Larry Korn — Kevin Cameron

KJ 75 BIODIVERSITY Online Articles:

ONE FAMILY Richard C. Murphy

Over 400 billion years ago, when our planet first formed, biodiversity was zero. There were no species. No life.

FUNDAMENTALS InterAcademy Panel

Loss of biodiversity threatens the ecosystems that play a central role in supporting vital Earth systems upon which humanity depends.

LIFE SUSTAINS LIFE Stephen Hesse

Our arts, leisure and entertainment, too, are linked to the myriad shapes, sounds, materials and colors of biodiversity. In short, when we speak of biodiversity we are also talking about the quality of human life and human survival.

POETRY
SATOYAMA Michael David Jewell

 

MODEL OF SUSTAINABILITY? Catherine Knight

“Satoyama” has become something of a buzzword in the last few years, appearing often in the media and discourse on nature conservation and environmental management practices in Japan.

STONE WALL Winifred Bird

On a beautiful pure blue day just before Christmas, I helped my husband rebuild a crumbled stone retaining wall behind his parents’ house in Mie prefecture.

BRINGING BACK TOKYO FIREFLIES – Emily Cousins

Nestled somewhere along the Nogawa river in Osawa, Tokyo, is a small rice paddy known as Hotaru No Sato , or “home of the fireflies.” Every summer, sometime in late June, fireflies (hotaru) make this place their home.

LESSONS FROM KITAYAMA CEDAR Yamada Isamu

Kitayama forestry has been practiced for more than 600 years. This traditional forestry is characterized by dense planting of cedar trees on steep rocky slopes.

IS LAKE BIWA BECOMING ANOXIC? Kumagai Michio

Lake Biwa is far and away Japan’s largest lake, stretching more than 63 kilometers from end to end, with a maximum depth of just over 100 meters.

INVITING TOTORO TO TOKYO – Jared Braiterman

Habitat creation for a fictional character dissolves the borders between science and magic, city and country, pragmatism and aesthetics.

We’re accustomed to thinking of biodiversity in connection with wild species, but the biodiversity of the crop species on which we depend is no less important.

Noguchi Isao, now 65 years old, was born in the seed shop that his grandfather started in Hanno, in rural Saitama, northwest of Tokyo.

Wild-growing genetically-modified (Gm) canola plants have been found at many locations around Japan. The first investigations by concerned citizens started in 2004.

Seeds are travellers in space and time. In many species seeds are shed dry, and the embryos held within remain in a state of suspended animation – not alive, not dead, just waiting for moisture to reawaken them.

Poem: PANPSYCHISM Nancy Wahl

 

The critically endangered Amur, or Far Eastern leopard ( Panthera pardus orientalis) is probably the rarest big cat in the world. A mere 25 to 34 individuals remain in the wild within the southwest Primorye region of Far Eastern Russia.

THE HUNTER HUNTED Sara Sukor

Its existence has been so magically described, majestically worshipped and globally admired, yet this charismatic creature has been driven to the edge of extinction.

Little things — lizards, beetles, a roosting owl, weaver birds, ground squirrels… A host of tiny lives, so easily unnoticed, but so full of interest once one has become aware of them. And so important to the integrity of the whole ecosystem.

REAL STRATEGIES Midori Paxton

When it comes to big-time biodiversity conservation, Protected Areas (PAs) are a major asset and a key ally. They cover 13 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain the highest concentrations of biodiversity. Strengthening of the PAs is obviously a key strategy.

RESTORING CORAL REEFS IN THAILAND Keiron McLintock

Thailand’s coral reefs support 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of plants and animals — coral reefs are home to one in four marine species.

More than a third of the world’s fisheries have commercially collapsed within the last century, while only a handful have subsequently been restored.

THE DIVIDING LINE – Gen Del Raye

In the fall months abalone divers who operate near these islands describe a feeling of being watched by eyes that lie just beyond their field of view, and some have spent harrowing moments hiding beneath boulders while great whites roamed nearby.

CLEAN COASTS Jennifer Teeter

Zero-emissions operation means no oil pollution and no threat of spillage. With Greenheart ships replacing conventional small and medium-size vessels, the lessening of environmental destruction would be immediate and dramatic.

Poem: KAYAK Marjorie Rommel

 

The choice before Jeju is that of an epic struggle — global urbanization, industrialization, and militarization versus natural preservation.

LIFEBOATS AND LIFELINES Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan

We know that the environment is the social security system for a vast number of poor. Although jobs may be created, they cannot be sustained in a vacuum that does not include solid social, economic and environmental foundations.

13 GRANDMOTHERS Clara Shinobu Iura

We, the international Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother earth, all Her inhabitants, and all the children, for the next seven generations to come.

A NON-DUAL ECOLOGY? David Loy

The eco-crisis is as much a spiritual challenge as a technological one.

Seeming to defy gravity, the Buddhist hermitage of Taktsang — long known as the Tiger’s Nest — perches precariously on the face of a cliff three thousand feet above a dense jungle forest.

Any action taken to restore a place’s natural biodiversity can also spark further beneficial changes that will come as a complete surprise.

The flora, fauna, and terrains of our graceful planet contain a whole world of discovery. It only takes a single child and a trip outdoors, to realize that it is arguably our planet’s richest resource of intellectual query.

TO BE HUMAN Adam Wolpert

As humans, I have come to see, we are nested within a system that is infinitely creative; recognizing this truth unleashes our own creativity.

BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO: AN ETHNO-BIOLOGICAL MEDITATION Adam Hartzell interviews director Jessica Oreck

Working in the butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum, you hear more kids ask if the butterfly is broken than if it’s dead. Which to me is a pretty big sign that there is something wrong with our basic understanding of the natural world.

ONE ARTIST’S JOURNEY Lucinda Cowing

This table set is made almost entirely from driftwood. Each salvaged piece has a unique shape, texture, colour, and often other characteristics that suggest a story which could span years or decades.

A CELEBRATION OF SOUND Miyoko Chu & Allison Childs Wells

A CD from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology transports the listener to wild habitats around the world and even turns back the clock to celebrate the sounds of animals. Selected from more than 150,000 recordings in the Lab’s collection, the 62 cuts on The Diversity of Animal Sounds capture the voices and vibrations of animals as they court, fight, find food, and react to predators.