“That’s not re-wilding, THIS is re-wilding!”

Last week I blogged about what I thought was fairly large-scale DIY re-wilding. Like the famous scene in Crocodile Dundee (“that’s not a knife, THIS is a knife!”) the excellent podcast EconTalk whips out a fascinating new interview this week on really large-scale re-wilding. As in, 3.3 million acres of virgin and mostly fence-less American prairie. Open and with free-roaming unmanaged wild bison, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, wolf packs and more.

bison-prairie

It’s also in one of the most remote places in the USA. Sounds to me, from listening to the podcast like there’s soon going to be a great place for a Prairie Man festival (alongside Burning Man). Pity that Burning Man is just incredibly eco-unfriendly once you make all the calculations include car mileage and air-travel. Perhaps a Prairie Man festival could only be got to by walking 50 miles into the Prairie — no vehicles? And you’d have to get to the start of the trail in a solar-powered genuinely eco-friendly car, after travelling cross-country by rail.

The Simon-Ehrlich wager 25 years on

In Spiked this week… “The Simon-Ehrlich wager 25 years on”

“That the perspective put forward by the likes of Julian Simon on the social and environmental benefits of fossil fuels remain mind-boggling to a general audience is to be expected. That so many well-meaning academics and public intellectuals remain enthralled by scenarios of doom after two centuries of debates — in which the depletionists’ projections were repeatedly crushed by human creativity — is more puzzling.”

The Evolution of Everything – released

The major new book by Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist) is titled The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge and it’s out today in the UK.

cover_

Amazon UK’s page for the Kindle/print book knows nuuurtthing about any audio book, but they do have two pages for one if your search. There’s a bit of an Amazon sales flim-flam going on with these, though. “Get it free” but only by subscribing by direct debit to Audible, or pay a gouging £30.65 on pre-order and wait-until-November — those appear to be the only options on Amazon UK.

However, the canny buyer will go to Audible UK’s page for the audiobook, where it is available now at a distinctly affordable £13.99. You can even hear the first 13 minutes of the audiobook for free on Soundcloud, read by Steven Crossley.

The USA Audible.com audiobook release is apparently to arrive curiously late on 3rd November 2015. A dangerous gap there, I’d suggest, regarding U.S. piracy in the meantime.

The EcoMods

Ecomodernism

“A new idea is gaining ground, under the term ‘Ecomodernism’, which celebrates that economic growth and technology can go hand in hand with green living”.

Right idea, clunky name.

“Modernism” has all sorts of unfortunate connotations among British intellectuals and policy wonks, whom it seems are now to be addressed in earnest. In a British context “modernism” evokes utilitarian concrete tower-blocks and snooty obscurantist art, and even (for political types in the know) the taint of modernism’s fascist roots. Plus, it failed.

But… shorten the name to the more mellifluous “EcoMod” and it perks up a bit in a British context — with the “mod” bit evoking the sharp-suited energetic young mods of the My Generation era in the optimistic London of the 1960s, and the “all the mod cons” self-made optimism of Mrs Thatcher’s 1980s boomtime — while also being usefully vague.

By contrast, Matt Ridley’s “rational optimism” just doesn’t shorten or trip off the tongue so well. Let’s face it, “I’m an opti-rat!” was never going to sound cool in the sixth-form common room or at a London dinner-party, and even less so when in conversation with a passing Joe Public while hauling litter out of the local river.

Anyway, the Ecomoderism name was kicked into the UK public field with a debate in London this morning, and some articles in The Telegraph. I hope someone got a good podcast of the event that can be listened to and linked. If not, there’s the April 2015 manifesto in PDF.

Large-scale DIY re-wilding

$90 million, 54,000 acres, 300 years. The task: restore and re-wild a huge patch of Florida to native longleaf pine forest.

A similar personal project is going on down in Brazil, now ten years in — and with the research nailed down on how to take tough cattle pasture back to native forest…

On the one hand I like the idea that such places are driven by a single vision, thus avoiding the sort of built-by-a-committee multi-funder compromises that might turn a big reserve into some kind of eco theme-park or (in corrupt South American countries) into just another protection-racket / grants-sponge for corrupt local politicians. On the other hand, I hope there are robust mechanisms being put in place for long-term continuity of such projects.

Global Deforestation – new U.N. report

Reason on a new U.N. report “Global Deforestation Rate Has Fallen by Half”.

ForestTrendsUp

But the basket-case nations like Burma (Myanmar), Paraguay, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Argentina, continued to significantly clear their forests in this period…

ForestTrendsDown

There seems to be a curious lack of data on Russia. Searching the U.S. report for “Russia” finds only lots of boilerplate statements that Russia has a vast amount of the world’s forests, but no real data on what has happened to them since 2010. One would expect — given the decline in both the paper pulp market and the demographics of Russia, and the claims of creeping warming of the sub-Arctic margins — that the overall natural forest area in Russia expanded from 2010-15.