A Map Shows What Happens When Our World Gets Four Degrees Warmer: The Colorado River Dries Up, Antarctica Urbanizes, Polynesia Vanishes

Humanity faces few larger questions than what, exactly, to do about climate change — and, in a sense larger still, what climate change even means. We've all heard a variety of different future scenarios laid out, each of them based on different data. But data can only make so much of an impact unless translated into a form with which the imagination can readily engage: a visual form, for instance, and few visual forms come more tried and true than the map.

And so "leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author" Parag Khanna has created the map you see above (view in a larger format here), which shows us the state of our world when it gets just four degrees celsius warmer. "Micronesia is gone – sunk beneath the waves," writes Big Think's Frank Jacobs in an examination of Khanna's map. "Pakistan and South India have been abandoned. And Europe is slowly turning into a desert."




But "there is also good news: Western Antarctica is no longer icy and uninhabitable. Smart cities thrive in newly green and pleasant lands. And Northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia produce bountiful harvests to feed the hundreds of millions of climate refugees who now call those regions home."

Not quite as apocalyptic a climate-change vision as some, to be sure, but it still offers plenty of considerations to trouble us. Lands in light green, according to the map's color scheme, will remain or turn into "food-growing zones" and "compact high-rise cities." Yellow indicates "uninhabitable desert," brown areas "uninhabitable due to floods, drought, or extreme weather." In dark green appear lands with "potential for reforestation," and in red those places that rising sea levels have rendered utterly lost.

Those last include the edges of many countries in Asia (and all of Polynesia), as well as the area where the southeast of the United States meets the northeast of Mexico and the north and south coasts of South America. But if you've ever wanted to live in Antarctica, you won't have to move into a research base: within a couple of decades, according to Khanna's data, that most mysterious continent could become unrecognizable and "densely populated with high-rise cities," presumably with their own hipster quarters. But where best to grow the ingredients for its avocado toast?

Anyone interested in Parag Khanna's map will want to check out his book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization.

via Big Think

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Google Street View Lets You Walk in Jane Goodall’s Footsteps and Visit the Chimpanzees of Tanzania

As mentioned here last month, Dr. Jane Goodall is now teaching her first online course through Masterclass. In 29 video lessons, her course will teach you about the three pillars of her lifelong work: environmental conservation, animal intelligence, and activism. But that's not the only way you can digitally engage with Jane Goodall's world. Over on Google Maps, you can take a visual journey through Gombe National Park in Tanzania, where Goodall conducted her historic chimpanzee research, starting back in July, 1960. As Google writes: this visual initiative lets you experience "what it’s like to be Jane for a day." You can "peek into her house, take a dip in Lake Tanganyika, spot the chimp named Google and try to keep up with Glitter and Gossamer." Completed in partnership with Tanzania's National Parks and the Jane Goodall Institute, this project contributes to an effort to use satellite imagery and mapping to protect 85 percent of the remaining chimpanzees in Africa. To get the most out of Street View Gombe, visit the accompanying website Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots.

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The Philosophical Appreciation of Rocks in China & Japan: A Short Introduction to an Ancient Tradition

In addition to summing up Socrates and his European heirs, Alain de Botton has also applied his five-minute animated video approach to the very basics of Eastern philosophy. While offering its introductory surveys, the series may hopefully spur viewers on to greater appreciation of, for example, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, and Japanese Zen master Sen no Rikyu, who refined the tea ceremony as a meticulous meditative ritual. Rikyu’s practice shows us how much philosophical and religious traditions (often a distinction without a difference) in Japan and China engage rigorously with everyday objects and routines as often as they do with texts and lectures.

Yesterday, we brought you several short explanations of one such practice, Kintsugi, the wabi sabi art of “finding beauty in broken things” by turning cracked and broken pottery into gilded, beautifully flawed vessels. Several hundred years earlier, in 826 AD, renowned Tang Dynasty poet and civil servant Bai Juyi discovered a pair of oddly shaped rocks that captivated his attention. Taking them home to his study, he then wrote a poem about them, influenced by Daoism’s reverence for the forces of nature and inspired by the hard evidence such forces carved into the rocks. Like the broken pottery of Japan’s Kintsugi, Bai’s rocks come in part to symbolize human frailty. In this case, he casts the rocks as friends in his lonely old age, asking them, “Can you keep company with an old man like myself?”




After Bai Juyi, aesthetic meditations on the beauty of rock formations became highly popular and quickly refined into “four principal criteria,” writes the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “thinness (shou), openness (tou), perforations (lou), and wrinkling (zhou).” The found artifacts are often known as “scholar’s rocks”—a mistranslation, de Botton says, of a term meaning “spirit stones”—and are chosen for their natural wildness, as well as shaped by human hands. They were placed in gardens and studies, and “became a favorite and enduring pictorial genre.” During the early Song dynasty, such stones were “constant sources of inspiration,” and were “valued quite as highly as any painting or calligraphic scroll.”

So highly-prized were these objects, in fact, that they appear to “have hastened the collapse of the Northern Song Empire,” through a mania not unlike that which drove the tulip craze in the 17th century Netherlands. As did many Chinese cultural traditions—including Zen Buddhism—the love of rocks crossed over into Japan, where it was adapted “in a particularly Japanese way” in the 15th century, inspiring the “subdued, smooth,” minimalist rock gardens we’re likely familiar with, if only through their consumer novelty versions.

As per usual, de Botton imbues his lesson with a takeaway moral: rock reverence teaches us that “wisdom can hang off bits of the natural world just as well as issuing from books.” We may also see the love of rocks as a kind of anti-consumerist practice, in which we shift the attention we typically lavish on disposable objects destined for landfills, trashheaps, and plastic-littered oceans, and instead apply it to beautiful bits of the natural world, which require few investments of labor or capital to enrich our lives, and can be found right outside our doors, if we’re careful and attentive enough to see them.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Hummingbird Whisperer: Meet the UCLA Scientist Who Has Befriended 200 Hummingbirds

Common wisdom, and indelible memories of The Birds, warn that feeding seagulls, pigeons and other creatures who travel in flocks is a can of worms best left unopened.

But what about hummingbirds?

Melanie Barboni is research geochemist in UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences. Near the UCLA Court of Sciences she took a break from volcanos and the moon long enough to hang a feeder filled with sugar water outside her ground floor office window.




This complimentary buffet proved such a hit, she hung up more.

Two years later, Barboni is serving a colony of over 200 hummingbirds from four 80-ounce feeders. Their metabolism requires them to consume 8 to 10 times their body weight on a daily basis.

Barboni’s service to her tiny jewel-toned friends extends well beyond the feeders. She’s diverted campus tree trimmers from interfering with them during nesting season, and given public talks on the habitat-destroying effects of climate change. She’s collaborating with another professor and UCLA’s Chief Sustainability Officer Nurit Katz to establish a special garden on campus for hummingbirds and their fellow pollinators.

The intimacy of this relationship is something she’s dreamed of since her birdwatching childhood in Switzerland where the only hummingbirds available for her viewing were the ones in books. Her dream came true when a fellowship took her from Princeton to Los Angeles, where hummingbirds live year-round.

Some longtime favorites now perch on their benefactor’s hand while feeding, or even permit themselves to be held and stroked. A few like to hang out inside the office, where the warm glow of Barboni’s computer monitor is a comforting presence on inclement days.

She’s bestowed names on at least 50: Squeak, Stardust, Tiny, Shy…

(Show of hands from those who wish she’d named them all after noted geologists: Mary Anning, Eugene Merle ShoemakerCecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin...)

Get to know the UCLA hummingbirds better through Melanie Barboni’s up-close-and-personal documentary photos. Learn more about the species itself through the National Geographic documentary below.

via The Kids Should See This

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Dr. Jane Goodall Is Now Teaching an Online Course on Conservation, Animal Intelligence & Activism

FYI: If you sign up for a MasterClass course by clicking on the affiliate links in this post, Open Culture will receive a small fee that helps support our operation.

Back in June, we mentioned that the great primatologist and anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall was gearing up to teach her first online course on environmental conservation, animal intelligence, and activism. Now, it seemed worth giving this quick update--Goodall's course is ready to go. It features 29 lessons and costs $90. You can sign up and take the course through MasterClass here. (You can purchase an All-Access Annual Pass for every course in the MasterClass catalog for $180.)

Above watch a trailer that introduces the course. Below see her discuss the course on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Other courses currently offered by Masterclass include:

Find more courses taught by star instructors here.

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A Century of Global Warming Visualized in a 35 Second Video

Antti Lipponen, a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, gathered historical data from NASA and produced a short video effectively showing that, from 1900 through 2016, the temperature has steadily gotten warmer worldwide. Each spoke of the wheel represents one of 191 different countries. And the hotter the color (e.g. oranges and reds), the warmer the temperature. You can get a closer look at the historical progression here. The materials have been released under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.

Note: If you want to better understand the science of Global Warming, we'd recommend watching the lectures from this free Global Warming course from the University of Chicago:

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via Yale Environment 360

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Dr. Jane Goodall Will Teach an Online Course About Conserving Our Environment

FYI: If you sign up for a MasterClass course by clicking on the affiliate links in this post, Open Culture will receive a small fee that helps support our operation.

A quick heads up: The great primatologist and anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall--now 83 years old--will soon teach her first online course ever. Hosted by Masterclass, the course, consisting of 25 video lectures, will teach students how they can conserve the environment. It will also share Goodall's research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. The course won't get started until this fall, but you can pre-enroll now. The cost is $90.

Other courses currently offered by Masterclass include:

Find more courses taught by star instructors here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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