Friday, November 18, 2011

Water - A matter of survival

A CounterStrike Strategy: Fluid Democracy – Story of The Italian Water Revolution

by Tommaso Fattori

From Commons to the referendum
Earth, water, air and fire (what we would call, in contemporary terms, energy) have, for thousands of years, been considered primary elements and the common base materials of life, ever since the dawn of Western philosophical thought in ancient Greece. In the Metamorphosis by Ovid – a classic of Latin literature written more than two thousand years ago – the goddess Latona thus addresses a group of peasants who refuse to allow her to drink from a pool: “Why do you refuse me water? The common use of water is the sacred right of all mankind. Nature allows to no one to claim as property the sunshine, the air, or the water. When I drew near, it was a public good I came to share. Yet I ask it of you a favour (…). A draught of water would be nectar to me; it would revive me, and I would own myself indebted to you for life itself”. These words condense the elements that were to proper legal regulation more than five hundred years later, in the Justinian Code. Contrary to the res nullius – goods that belong to no one and that can therefore be appropriated by whoever takes them first – air, water and sunshine are natural commons, that belong to everyone and because of this cannot be appropriated privately and exclusively by any one person. These are not goods from which is legal to make profits. They are inalienable goods, which are not even at the Princeps -that is, the Roman Emperor’s- disposal. Goods that are essential for life, hence connected to the fundamental rights of every human being. Rather, to be precise, the natural commons are in fact common to every living being – plants and animals included – if we do not want to remain trapped in a strictly anthropocentric point of view.

Over the centuries the ranks of the goods socially recognised as commons in the various human communities have been increased significantly: they have expanded well beyond the natural commons. It would have been rather difficult, during the time of Justinian, to predict that one day the Web would be considered a common good.

At the same time, guaranteeing access to certain vital natural commons (such as water) everyone’s right to enjoy basic intangible common goods (such as education) has required society to create public services. And so it is public services of general interest, in most parts of the world, which guarantee access to many of these goods: an access which is not direct and immediate, as it is the case of “ecosystem-people”, that is, the poorer two-thirds of humanity living in a biodiversity-based economy in the Global South, but mediated access, because it implies and requires a social service.

Tangible or intangible, natural or social, the commons are those goods or assets that no one can claim to have produced individually: goods that the collectivity receives as a gift of Nature (no one produces water or the global water cycle, air or forests) or receives as an inheritance from previous generations, as condensation of collective thought and collective action (i.e. knowledges, codes, languages, insitutions). The commons are what is considered essential for life, understood not merely in the biological sense. They are the structures which connect individuals to one another, tangible or intangible elements that we all have in common and which make us members of a society, not isolated entities in competition with each other. Elements that we maintain or reproduce together, according to rules established by the community: an area to be rescued from the decision-making of the post-democratic Èlite and which needs to be self-governed through forms of participative democracy. Commons are places for encounters and dialogues between members of a collectivity who participate in first person. Democracy and commons are, therefore, closely inter-connected.

Nevertheless, over the centuries, the number of commons that have been annihilated and privatised has slowly grown: at the time of Justinian no one could have predicted that one day modern capitalism would be born of “enclosing” these goods nor that there would be a successive push towards privatisation, not only of the land but also of seeds and biodiversity, and then water, air and even knowledge itself (for example, through intellectual property rights). The vote in the Italian referendum was a vote against the new enclosures, in favour of a democratically participated management of water and commons.
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Earth Changes – Water Element

Posted by Mark Sircus

Tiny changes in the earth’s cloud cover could account for variations in temperature of several degrees, most climatologists believe, so this could explain what we are seeing with intensifying rainfall. The amount of ultra fine condensation nuclei (UFCN) material depends on the quantity of the background drizzle of cosmic rays. Normally this quantity varies depending on the strength of the sun’s magnetic field and the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field. But lately there seems to be an unexplained increase in cosmic rays and this is troubling scientists.

The world’s most sophisticated particle study laboratory – CERN in Geneva – announced that more cosmic rays do indeed create more clouds in earth’s atmosphere. Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Space Research Institute cloud chamber experiment showed natural cosmic rays quickly created vast numbers of tiny “cloud seeds.” Since clouds often cover 30 percent of the earth’s surface, a moderate change in cloud cover clearly could explain the warming/cooling cycle. Svensmark noted the gigantic “solar wind” that expands when the sun is active – and thus blocks many of the cosmic rays that would otherwise hit the earth’s atmosphere. When the sun weakens, the solar wind shrinks. Recently, the U.S. Solar Observatory reported a very long period of “quiet sun” and predicted 30 years of cooling.

Recently at the South Pole increased levels of cosmic rays have been detected crashing into the Earth and they appear to be coming from a particular location rather than being distributed uniformly across the sky. Scientists know of no source close enough to produce this pattern. “We don’t know where they are coming from,” says Stefan Westerhoff of the University of Wisconsin-Link
Madison. It’s a mystery because the hotspots must be produced within about 0.03 light years of Earth. Further out, galactic magnetic fields should deflect the particles so much that the hotspots would be smeared out across the sky. But no such sources are known to exist.

Humans must stay within certain boundaries if they hope to avoid environmental catastrophe, a leading group of environmental scientists has recently said. Crossing those limits may not rock the Earth itself, but would lead to harsh consequences for human existence on the planet as we know it. It does seem like we have crossed that boundary and have done so very quickly. In 2011 natural disaster has been the rule not the exception with flooding taking first place in how Nature is striking at us.
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