Tag: revolution (Page 1 of 5)

The Climate Revolution

For me, 2016 has been the year of thinking about the climate. Climate has been a big topic in many realms, such as my schooling and in politics. For example, in my Weather, Climate, and Society class, we learned all about the controlling factors of climate, such as humidity, convergence and divergence, and types of clouds. Also, with the election of President Elect Donald Trump, who believes that climate change is a myth perpetuated by the Chinese, many people fear for the future of climate policy. Having learned much about the scientific and social sides of climate change, it was very refreshing to learn about the history of climate revolutions from Dr. Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT.

Dr. Emmanuel explained that the “Climate Revolution” wasn’t one large revolution, but a collection of small revolutions and individual efforts to make the field a reality. In the beginning, the field of climate science started with several curious scientists who wanted to learn more about hoe the surface temperature of the Earth is regulated. This lead to the discovery of ice sheets, which led to them understanding the periodic shifts in Earth’s temperature from ice age to warming, which lead to the discovery of greenhouse gases. Dr. Emmanuel also pointed about that in the 19th century, when the field was first being established, there were contributions made by scientists who specialized in all different fields, such as, geology, physics, chemistry, and more. This helped me to understand that climate science is the culmination of many different fields and that the climate also has an effect on more than just one thing.

One thing that I also found interesting was that Dr. Emmanuel claimed that the concept of “climate change” isn’t a new thing. He told us that people have always been concerned with the change in weather patterns, but only now, with the increased accuracy of observational data, are we able to make easier conclusions about climate which can lead to more changes in policy. This lead to climate science transforming from a field mainly rooted in traditional weather observation to using mathematically based data and observations.

Overall, Dr. Emmanuel’s lecture helped me to learn even more about climate change, which I didn’t think possible. It made me see the importance of climate science, which helps us to understand why climate change occurs, but also who sea levels rise, why oceans become more acidic, why storms become more powerful, and why weather patterns having been changing over the years.


Data is Not Fact or Truth

Are there ways to fact check data? Aaron R. Hanlon , an English Professor at Colby in his talk on the Revolutions in Data, Big, and Little, has brought up that question that I bet many have not thought to ask. Hanlon opened his talk with how we take Data for granted. Data comes from the British tradition, entering the English language in the 1600s from Latin, where it was seen as fact and truth the way nowadays we view Google data. Hanlon discusses the way we misinterpret “data,” a conversation that would truly benefit people today as we are in the age of technology where “data” is attainable at a click of a button.

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How are we not revolutionary?

On November 29th, I had the opportunity to listen to Keith Peterson, who discussed in length about Bruno Latour’s highly controversial philosophies, the major one being whether we have actually been revolutionary at all. Bruno Latour argues that we have never been revolutionary, asserting the fact that we actually have never been modern. While this is an interesting approach to defining revolutions, I believe that it is not comprehensive. Firstly, I think that it is highly subjective. How would person A define modernity? How would person B define modernity? Will they find any parallels?

Bruno Latour also finds faults in society’s current system of distinguishing everything between nature and society. He believes that this is something our ancestors never did. For instance, take a look at alchemy, or even astrology. To strengthen his argument, he identifies certain aspects where the distinction between nature and society simply becomes overwhelming. Think about ozone depletion. This is a classic case where nature, science, politics all converge. So, what about the distinction?

While I attempted to follow Bruno Latour’s line of thought in that span of one hour, I was left wondering about the arguments presented. The audience was presented with a whole lot of new concepts beforehand without any background context whatsoever, such as anti-modernism, postmodernism and others. His is a refreshing approach questioning how humans have differentiated between nature and society; however at times I was puzzled at his methodology. While I do approach philosophical subjects with curiosity, the technicality of the discussed sometimes got the better of me. So while I believe that Bruno Latour must have very strong reasons to suggest that we have never been revolutionary, I do not think he was successful in convincing me, which of course says nothing about his arguments.

Go Start a Revolution!

Are we in the midst of a revolution? Given the variety of revolutions that have been presented to us over the semester, the answer is undoubtedly yes. We must be in some part of some ongoing revolution of some sort. The more important question to ask ourselves is how we will participate in the revolution of our choice: What are we going to do about it? Studying the theoretical underpinnings of revolutions of the past has its value, and the series of lectures this semester provided us with a diverse definition of a revolution. The course title “Continuing Revolutions,” invites us to look into the future at the revolutions that are happening around us that will continue throughout and after our lives. How can we take this knowledge to contribute to and start the revolutions that are pertinent to the world today? Continue reading

Revolution in Present Day United States?

It seems like just yesterday we were listening to Professor Cohen giving his talk about the Scientific Revolution not actually being as revolutionary as we have thought. Fast forward to December 6th and Professor Marcos Perez’s talk about actually being a revolutionary on the front lines of a revolution with his experience in Argentina with the Unemployed Worker’s Movement. Professor Perez’s talk was the perfect way to end this semester’s theme of Revolutions. We talked a lot about “revolutions” in plenty of contexts: the scientific revolution, Darwinian evolution, Big Data, Haitian Revolution, Political cartoons, etc.. Maybe except for Khalid Albaih, no other presenter had any personal experience with what I consider a real political “revolution” except for Professor Perez.

Perez asked the question I have often thought about when I see revolutions today covered on the news in different countries. Why do people risk their well being and even their lives to be on the front line of a revolution? Of course I am a privileged bystander watching the news of countries like Argentina and Ukraine who recently have had massive protests calling for a revolution. By living in the United States, I have the privilege of political stability that some areas of the world do not have. The United States itself, however has seen its share of revolutions over its brief history. The American Revolution birthed this country back in the late 1700’s, The Civil War during the 1860’s “gave” the right of citizenship to all Americans and abolished slavery, in 1920 the women’s suffrage movement achieved their ultimate victory with their right to vote and the 1960’s saw the Civil Rights Movement finally grant people of color equal and fair citizenship. All of these movements seem so far in the past, but given Professor Perez’s talk, could another revolution happen soon in the United States? These revolutionary periods, especially the Civil Rights Movement, occurred during what many consider America’s “modern” era, so the argument that America’s “modern” society could not have another revolution is difficult to evidence. Racism and brutality within the police force is still an issue we face today that needs change. I would argue that the Black Lives Matter movement could be considered a revolution, however we have yet to see the benefits of this movement. Given that Donald Trump is the President-Elect, I would not be surprised to see some form of revolutionary movement within my lifetime.

So back to the original question, why would someone risk their well being when often revolutions do not often reap immediate benefits? If people truly believe in a movement’s cause, they will join it regardless of what can happen to them. Revolutionary movements do not often look at the costs of getting their message across, they want change and they want it immediately. Giving up or lessening their aggressive methods means failure and the possible disruption of their movement. No revolutionary wants their cause to die out, so they keep fighting for a cause that is often larger than themselves. Of course the dangers vary from the setting and political environment a revolution is carried out in, but for some people a certain cause could mean life or death anyways.

We Have Never Been Revolutionary?

What if the very idea of being revolutionary was a false, disillusioning ideal? That is what Keith Peterson explored through the work of science and technology studies theorist Bruno Latour, a philosopher and sociologist by trade. Peterson focused mainly on Latour’s book We Have Never Been Modern, Peterson posed and answered questions about it. A whole field of study in philosophy focuses on the true meaning of words and how certain words that are used too frequently can really diminish their true meaning. In Latour’s book he asks the question, “what if we have never been modern?”, a very interesting and provocative question.

Perhaps part of this narrative that we have never been modern or revolutionary is this idea that those two words (modern and revolution) have been used too much in the world, but more egregiously in the west. In television commercials and in science, the word “revolution” is used almost too frequently to describe products and discoveries. For example, I know I’ve heard “A revolution in toothpaste” in a dental care company’s commercial before when they’re only describing a small change. “Modern” is usually used to place more value on whatever entity it is describing. Countries describe themselves as “modern” or “modernizing” when they want to say they are moving up in the world. Should being “modern” necessarily place more value on countries or areas of the world than less “modern” countries? Why is “modernizing” usually always considered a “good” thing? Latour asks this in his book when he questions why nature and culture have drifted so far apart in the “modernist” movement. He argues that modernity’s split between culture and nature is not actually how it is.

But back to the question I posed earlier, should more value be placed on more modern countries? Or is a less “modern” civilization better? What exactly constitutes “modernity”? In certain measures, “modernity” is a great thing. In the west, modern medicine has eradicated deadly diseases like smallpox, malaria, polio, and typhoid fever. As medicine has “modernized” people live longer, healthier lives. In less developed places in the world, malaria and typhoid fever, among other diseases, devastates populations and creates less quality of life. However, it seems nowadays that “modernizing” comes with social and cultural consequences in which many people nowadays cannot stay from electronic devices like computers, smart phones, tablets, televisions and more. Modernized countries have seen their time spent outside reduced considerably in recent years. Modernity has also come with a rise in obesity from lack of exercise and moving around, which has increased the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In the west culture has transitioned to “pop culture” in which entertainment is valued for money intake instead of culture for culture’s sake. Meaning that songs, stories, news, events, etc. are all put on for profit’s sake instead of their intrinsic value. Other “less modern” countries value their culture’s song, dance and other aspects intrinsically.

Latour seemed to be harsh of this new lifestyle of “modern” countries that has developed in recent years. “Modern” and “Revolution” are words whose connotations can mean different things to people in different contexts.

Revolutions, an Evolution in Itself

Janet Brown’s talk, “Rethinking the Darwinian Revolution” delved into characteristics of the original Darwinian Revolution, and discussed how it has evolved since. One component to her talk was the striking difference between the Darwinian Revolution when Darwin was alive and when he was deceased.  Although Darwin developed his theories and recorded extensive data, his life-altering perceptions about our relationship with other species caused controversy. It was not until Darwin passed away that he became an icon. As Brown mentioned, upon his death Darwin’s friends petitioned to have him buried in the famous Westminster Abbey.

It is intriguing that Darwin’s thoughts, and him as an icon of the presently changing mindset, did not catch steam until after his passing. One notable point Brown discussed was that Darwin was not the only evolutionist of the time. However, with the help of his friends, Darwin became the face of the movement and was quickly idolized. Even though Darwin’s image improved, compared to when he was alive, his revolution would not truly impact the lives of many until the American scientists accepted his theory in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

The story of Darwin demonstrates the different forms a revolution can come in. Specifically, the duration of revolutionary thoughts, and advancements in human’s understanding of the world, can clearly exceed the revolutionary’s lifetime.  Moreover, the evolution revolution underwent many changes and altered its image over many generations. This also shows the number of changes a revolution can undergo, and how different generations may interpret, or misinterpret, its purpose. Thus, revolutions can be variable, evolving, and adaptable; they suit to the current environment and it is the ideas, and not always the people, that keep the revolution in motion.

Black Revolutions Matter

In all of my years of schooling, I have taken many classes on World history; learning about Greece, England, France, and other European countries. However, it wasn’t until the lecture with Jeremy Popkin from the University of Kentucky, that I learned of the Haitian Revolution.  After thinking back a bit more, this lecture was one of the first times in my life that I have learned, in a school setting, about a non-European revolution that was galvanized by majority non-Whites. I asked myself, why? There seems to be a pattern, in history, of the achievements of people of color being minimized and even erased altogether. In this post, I will explore the ways in which the people of color have been suppressed and oppressed by these happenings.

Two of the most talked about revolutions of the late 18th to 19th century are the French and the American Revolution. While they may have taken place in different parts of the world, both of these revolutions opposed rights and freedom of non-rights; they were essentially all about suppressing the rights of blacks while gaining the right to establish government. In contrast, the Haitian revolution was all about fighting for the freedoms and rights of African slaves and other marginalized groups.  The fact that the Haitian Revolution has been so silenced by historians, goes to show that the revolution is thought of as less complex, less noteworthy, and less significant, when in fact it was a major historical event, as the largest successful slave uprising in history.

I believe that it’s important to list some of the defining characteristics of The Haitian Revolution, as it has been largely ignored, up until a few decades ago. As noted in the last paragraph, the Haitian Revolution was the largest successful slave uprising in the world. The revolution was a 12 year battle against slavery and colonialism that resulted in acts of extreme violence by both sides of the conflict. Haiti finally got ints independence from France in 1804. This victory led to many progressive movements, such as the addition of Jean Baptiste Relley, a Black man,  to the French Parliament.

Despite the obvious importance of the revolution, which has been laid out in this post, the Haitian Revolution is still only known about by a small group of people, who are mostly African-American. This is the result of the erasure of the revolution. We cannot allow this to keep happening to the significant historical achievements of people of color. While it may seem that this happened hundreds of year ago, it is also happening on this very day. As of last year, legislators is Texas and other states were trying to write slavery out of public school textbooks. These books referred to African slaves as “migrant workers” who came to the New World freely, and depicted European indentured servants as those who truly suffered during this time. The falsity of this statement is huge and obvious to anyone who knows any American history, but if we don’t address these dangers acts, this could be the information that children one day learn in school.

Of Course We are Revolutionary

How could we not be revolutionary? while large or small it is hard to say, if not straight out impossible to say that we as humans have never been revolutionary. Revolutions  do not need to be large scale overthrows of the government, while that is how we remember them. For a revolution to counted in my eyes the way people understand something must change. Simply enough in most common sports their has been some sort of revolution that changed the game. If even simple sports are able to be revolutionized then obviously larger things like countries and philosophies also have the same ability.

In the sport of skiing their have been two major revolutions that changed the way the sport is played. the first major revolution is the break away gate. In skiing the racer must go around gates that stick straight up out of the ground. Prior to the 1980s these gates were bamboo poles. While mostly lightweight they gave almost no give to the racer. Athletes had to wear protective armor prior to going down the mountain as to protect themselves. Many athletes would develop black and blue marks all along their arms from hitting the gates when they skied down the mountain. The breakaway gate changed all of this. By making the gate out of plastic and attaching a hinge just above where the gate sticks out of the snow. by building gates like this racers now had the ability to ski more over the gates as opposed to around them. Instead of taking gates off of the arms skiers could wear guards on their hands to almost punch them to the ground.

After the revolution of the breakaway gate came another revolution. The shape ski. Brought to the mainstream by Bode Miller the shaped ski changed the sport of ski racing more than the break away gate could have ever dreamed. Instead of using skis that had no side cut, which increased the radius of the ski when tipped up on edge, making it harder to turn. Bode introduced a shaped ski which was easier to turn and allowed athletes the ability to go faster in courses. It was so revolutionary that Bode went from an unknown young ski racer in 1996 that by 1998 he was competing in the winter olympics. By 2002 ski racing looked totally different than before with how people went around the gates. In 2014 the governing body actually made skiers use straighter skis because racers were going so fast.

In baseball a revolution has taken place. In the early 1900s baseballs were “dead”. They lacked the inability to fly off the bat as of today because of their weight.  From a technology break though baseballs changed and so did the game. Luckily around the same time that baseballs stopped losing their “dead”-ness a legend was born. Babe Ruth changed the game of baseball with the home run. With the revolution before him with the making if the baseballs it allowed for him to be such a star.

Revolutions are always happening around us. While some may say that revolutions need to large even small ones change the course of history.

Tambora – The eruption that changed the world

Following the first lecture, where, in my opinion, one of the most important takeaways was the fact that we should question even worldwide accepted “facts”, such as “The scientific revolution”, where it was shown that mankind tends to have prejudice and follow the lead of the most powerful, western voice.

This weak, Gillen D’Arcy Wood, in his book, “Tambora: The eruption that changed the world”, once again demonstrates us that we should broaden the framework we look the world through and not only think that where the voice is the strongest, the truth is the biggest. Tambora talks about the year of 1815, and most of the people, even historians, would primarily connect this year to Napoleon Bonaparte and France in that time. Yet, that was also the year when Tambora, volcanic mountain on the small island in the Dutch West Indies, has erupted creating what was one of the greatest natural disasters in history, where its impact on the whole world could be observed in several years following the eruption as well. Even though there are not many written documents about this event created and preserved by people in that part of the world, Wood still finds enough resources to portrait just how important this natural event was, by also using literary sources like Mary Shelley’s journals and personal letters.

Yet, modern world remained pretty much blind to the whole thing happening. Tambora is rarely even considered to be the greatest eruption, and it is definitely not the most famous one, especially when compared to Vesuvius even though its impact has been exponentially stronger. Sadly, the prejudice of people can be seen throughout the history and also in the modern world. Yes, one can argue that if a similar event would occur now the world would react differently due to the globalization. However, I personally believe that this is true only to an extent as I think people would be informed about it, but would not necessarily care about what happened as long as it does not influence them directly.

In order to support my argument, I will use an example of Ebola and Syria. Ebola reached the world news only when there were infected people in the US or western Europe. Before that, yes there were some news on that topic, but it was not a major event and rarely who was talking about Ebola vaccines or other possible cure. Yet, when first US citizen was infected, he immediately received the treatment none of the people in western Africa have gotten. This means that the possible, still not completely approved, cure was available, but not used. Same things follows the revolution and ciil war in Syria. It reached the news and earned its importance for the world, only when ISIS terroristic attacks have occurred in Paris, or when the refugees as an immediate consequence of the war started emigrating to the countries of the western world. This is why many journalists and activist have said that media-wise 1 US and western European life equals 10 Eastern european and lives of the more developed countries in Africa, Asia and South America, which equals 100 lives of less developed countries in Asia, South America and Middle Eastern countries, which finally, equals 1000 lives in undeveloped countries in Africa. As sad as this sounds, this is truth, because being able to be informed does not mean being informed and not being ignorant.

We, as the whole world society, especially the countries with more power and media influence, should question are own current decisions and learn at least something from the mistakes of mankind in past, in order to ensure that we actually truly are prosperous society which goal is to develop not only in crude oil using industries, but even more in the are of knowledge, human rights and consciousness.

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