Summary highlights from 1491 and 1493, by Charles Mann

Human populations in the Western Hemisphere—that is, the indigenous peoples of the Americas—were more numerous, had arrived earlier, were more sophisticated culturally, and controlled and shaped the natural landscape to a greater extent than scholars had previously thought. He notes that two of the six independent centers of civilization in the world arose in the Americas: the first, Norte Chico or Caral-Supe, in present-day northern Peru; and …

Historical GHG emissions, responsibility

Figures from the World Resources Institute show the top 10 nations as measured by their cumulative emissions between 1850 and 2007. The US tops the list by a wide margin – though Chinese emissions have risen significantly since these data were assembled. 1. US: 339,174 MT or 28.8% 2. China: 105,915 MT or 9.0% 3. Russia: 94,679 MT or 8.0% 4. Germany: …

Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, the new book by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian

This essay is excerpted from Noam Chomsky’s new book, Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books) This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. June 2016 In January 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its famous Doomsday Clock to three minutes before midnight, a threat level that had not been reached for 30 years. The Bulletin’s statement explaining this advance toward catastrophe invoked the two major threats to …

A new book argues that the Constitution’s framers believed that vast concentrations of wealth were the enemy of democracy—so what happened?

By Jedediah Purdy, The Nation, 11 July 2017 Illustration by Tim Robinson. “Aconstitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in 1905. Holmes was dissenting from the Court’s majority opinion in Lochner v. New York, which held that the New York State Legislature had violated the right to freedom of contract when …

The founding myth of the United States

By Benjamin Naimark-Rowse, 3 July 2017, This article was originally published on Political Violence @ a Glance. The Boston Tea Party (Wikimedia Commons) Tomorrow, cities and towns from coast-to-coast will host fireworks, concerts and parades to celebrate our independence from Britain. Those celebrations will invariably highlight the soldiers who pushed the British from our shores. But the lesson we learn of …

How scientific causation came to be solidified in the tobacco use vs. lung cancer death rates era, relevance to climate skeptics now

By Seth Miller, see Newsfeed for the whole article, June 2017 Data credit: cancer.org, original image slightly reformatted by me in Tableau Long before research exposed evidence that humans cause global warming, science made another sensational claim — that smoking caused lung cancer.  That case has been proven beyond doubt. But there is a science story from this era that is mostly forgotten: The battle …

Declining precipitation in Colorado River Basin worsened by rising temperatures

Scientists found that another factor affected the runoff ratio: temperature. Over the last few centuries, the runoff ratio was reduced when temperatures were warmer. And the influence of temperature strengthened during drier years: When the snowpack was shallow, warm temperatures reduced the runoff ratio more than when the snowpack was deep, further exacerbating drought conditions. The low runoff ratios seen …