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Link time [science, conservation]

"Citizen science" can mean very different things to different people/stakeholders. I really appreciate the first example provided in this article, as a case where it involves teaching people how to use technology to address local environmental issues. This is as opposed to cases where things get dressed up as "citizen science" without providing any kind of clear direct benefits to participants other than the warm fuzzies from helping someone else out. I feel like I see way more examples of the latter as opposed to the former.

Relatedly, a colleague of mine has an article in the journal Nature about using YouTube videos to expand the public impact of his research. I don't know that his method is the best thing for ALL scientific findings, but OTOH it sure feels more rewarding when a broader audience is given ways to tune in to science and research.

There's a new New York Times article about how shifts in farming practices could facilitate more carbon storage on agricultural lands. The author has written a few more notes on things that didn't quite make it into the article. I hadn't realized the extent to which plants with deep root systems could quickly move carbon deeper underground. This appears to be a very active area of research, and I look forward to seeing how some of the questions raised get addressed in upcoming years/studies.

Just after reading that article, I encountered one about how desertification is being reversed across parts of Africa. While the main thrust of the article is positive, this story is also wrapped up in colonialism in ways that are both blatant and not, and that's something worth thinking about and discussing further. Clearly, the French colonialist policy that's mentioned directly and accidentally contributed to desertification. But then there's the complexity of who is treated as an "expert" in how desertification has been reversed: the traditional indigenous methods aren't given a person or group's name, but meanwhile white outsiders are named and given credit. This is confusing.

It made me think back to Nabhan's book Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, where Nabhan travels to different places to learn methods that people have been using for a long time to cope with hot, arid environments. On the one hand, Nabhan does a better job of telling the stories of the people he visits from those peoples' perspectives. On the other hand, not too long ago a Native American person sharply reminded me that it's inappropriate to take the attitude that "indigenous people have so much to teach Westerners," in that indigenous people aren't at all beholden to teach anything to Westerners (an objection against objectification and obligation). This is a point I am trying to take seriously. On the third hand, clearly the current Westernized agricultural practices (and other cultural practices) are problematic in many ways, and so people do need to look broadly for ideas for how to change problematic processes for the better. Local, community-based efforts are certainly an important part of that process.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1221292.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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