The wall had two sides...

The orgy of self-congratulation in Berlin by Western leaders to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall is hypocritical and designed to encourage the myth that no valid alternative exists to crisis-riddled capitalism.
Their condemnation of the 40 years of the German Democratic Republic as a brutally repressive state in comparison to enlightened Western democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) is, at best, an oversimplification.


Senator Edward Kennedy

The push for equality and civil rights for all lost a significant friend in the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. In a time when so many of these issues remain unresolved--eliminating discrimination against lgtb individuals, equal pay for equal work for women, equal access to quality affordable health care for all--his presence and leadership were needed now more than ever.

Despite his immense wealth Senator Kennedy forged a political career on helping those most in need and seeking inclusion for those most excluded. Senator Kennedy co-sponsored legislation to provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees, was a staunch supporter of affirmative action policies and programs, and sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment. The list of his legislative efforts to bring all Americans into the fold goes on.

His critics often point to enormity of his personal failings- his implication in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, his reputation as a rake, and a propensity to drink too much. If anything can be said about Senator Kennedy, it is that he lived life large, and begs the question--what great leader did not?

But if the measure of a man's worth comes from helping those most in need, fighting when most have resigned defeat, and reaching out when others pull back, then Senator Kennedy most certainly earned the moniker "the lion." He was a king among kings. Whatever your political leanings there is no denying the true leadership Senator Kennedy showed in the Senate and for this country. His presence in the coming years and in these difficult days will be missed.

Perhaps though the Senator who, despite his liberal beliefs and record, was known most for reaching across the aisle to form bipartisan consensus on difficult issues, has one last act in store. What better, more fitting memory to the Kennedy legacy than to pass significant health care reform this year? It is an issue Senator Kennedy pursued doggedly, and his absence in the recent debate is as clear as partisan rancor is loud. With one last roar we can get it done.

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Theodore Iliopoulos - a greek tragedy in process.

Theodore Iliopoulos was arrested on the 18th of August 2008, during the student protests against the cold-blooded murder of a 15 year old schoolboy by a police officer, in the centre of Athens. The arrest was made after two police officers, identified T.I. as one participating in the riots that followed. Students and journalists have testified for the opposite.

The arrest is considered as an attempt by the police to appear on top of things, since they were heavily criticized for inadequacy during the events.
Police chiefs (and the government) were blamed not only for the killing but also for their handling, which mainly consisted of lies and general remarks.
First it was a mob that attacked the officers, then an accidental shooting etc, until a mobile phone video was aired on youtube showing that the officer parked his vehicle two blocks away from the youngsters and returned by foot, gun in hand, and shot the boy with a single bullet. All this because someone else had thrown a water bottle at them. The victim was a bystander, but was considered part of the crowd and it cost him his life.

Theodore was arrested 8 months ago, the only arrest out of the thousands that participated, and he is still being held without a trial! On the 10th of July 2009, he begun a hunger strike demanding his release after 7 months in jail. He was a thin man to start with, weighing only 60 kilos, so the hunger strike took its toll rather quickly. After one month he has lost 18% of his body weight and the prison doctors as well as state medical examiners demand that he is transferred to an intensive care unit.

The Head Secretary of the Ministry has yet to accept a hearing of the 7 lawyers dealing with the Iliopoulos case and the prisoners' rights group, due to heavy workload... If you 've ever been in Greece in August, you will know that the entire country is on holiday...

I am not a lawyer and I cannot express my opinion on the guilt or innocence of Theodore Iliopoulos. I am a citizen of this country, and I know that even the worst criminals have rights, first and foremost that of access to medical care, especially when it is available within a few kilometers from the prison!

The right wing government of New Democracy and PM Kostas Karamanlis, seem to be taking their revenge from the student movement, in the face of Theodore, whose life is now at risk, while the Ministry of Justice is buried in its own... workload.



Good news for dogs

Great news for dogs: Banfield, the nation's largest network of animal hospitals, with more than 730 hospitals and 2,000 veterinarians nationwide, has just announced that it will no longer dock dogs' tails, crop their ears, or remove their vocal cords--a cruel procedure known as devocalization, or de-barking! (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-07-30-dog-tails_N.htm)

As mentioned in the USA Today article, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has fought laws seeking to ban tail docking and ear cropping because it feels that purebred dogs should conform to certain breed standards. But performing medically unnecessary procedures on dogs only perpetuates the notion that they are fashion accessories. Unfortunaely, many breeders insist that “their” breed will be “ruined” if it does not maintain the image handed down by breed clubs decades ago. AKC doggie beauty pageants are filled with dogs who have been mutilated for no good reason.

Dogs usually have their ears cropped when they are just eight to 12-weeks old. At this stage in their development, the trauma of the procedure can have a strong psychological impact on the maturing pup. The process of taping and re-taping a pup’s ears to force them to stand erect after they have been cropped can be agonizing for the dog.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has pointed out that, “ear cropping and tail docking are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection.” Because the procedures are so cruel and dangerous, they have been banned in many European countries.

Many veterinarians also condemn de-barking because it is superfluous, causes dogs a great deal of post-operative pain, and strips them of their natural means to communicate. Yet some people resort to this cruel, invasive procedure as a "solution" to problem barking—even though there are humane and effective alternatives, including simple positive training methods. (Of course, some experimenters also de-bark dogs used in laboratory tests, so that they won't be "disturbed" by the dogs' desperate cries for help and attention.)

Thankfully, some people who were thinking about subjecting their animals to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures will likely think twice now that Banfield has come out against them—setting an example for other animal hospitals to follow. As Dr. Karen Faunt, Banfield's vice president for medical quality advancement, says, "It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether."

With any luck, declawing (http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-welfare/blog/how-to-be-your-cats-best-friend/) will be the next cruel and unnecessary procedure to be banned. To learn more about cosmetic surgeries on dogs and cats—and find out what you can do to help lessen animal suffering—see www.HelpingAnimals.com.

Source: www.care2.com


Obama και περιβάλλον

In a stunning blow to the U.S.'s environment, the Obama Administration just approved a clearcut of 382 acres of timber in a roadless area of Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

Obama needs to know the world agrees: Stop the clearcut! >>

The clearcut in the Tongass will involve building 6.9 miles of roads and rebuilding another 1.9 miles of old roads. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack put a temporary halt to timber sales in roadless areas of national forests -- but he approved this timber sale despite the concerns of people who care about this important temperate rainforest, home to numerous endangered species.

Vilack argues it'll provide much-needed jobs for the region -- but even in troubled economic times, we cannot sacrifice the future of our planet!

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"Ανεκδιήγητο λάθος η προσήλωση στο χρήμα" του Richard Sennett

Ο κορυφαίος Aμερικανός στοχαστής Ρίτσαρντ Σένετ εξηγεί πώς ο αυτάρεσκος ατομικισμός επικράτησε της συλλογικής δράσης

Συνέντευξη στον Βασίλη Mπουρδούκουτα

Ο Ρίτσαρντ Σένετ, καθηγητής Κοινωνιολογίας στο London School of Economics, μέλος της Βασιλικής Εταιρείας Λογοτεχνίας και ένας εκ των ιδρυτών του Ινστιτούτου Ανθρωπιστικών Σπουδών στη Νέα Υόρκη, συγκαταλέγεται στους πλέον ευρηματικούς στοχαστές της εποχής μας. Διακρίνεται για την κοινωνιολογική του φαντασία, είναι απολαυστικός ως συγγραφέας και διαθέτει το χάρισμα να παραμένει αφοπλιστικά απλός και ουσιαστικός, ακόμη κι όταν πραγματεύεται εξαιρετικά σύνθετα κοινωνικά ή πολιτιστικά ζητήματα.

Ο, Αμερικανός στην καταγωγή και σοσιαλδημοκράτης στην ιδεολογία, Σένετ κατόρθωσε να δώσει νέα πνοή στις πολιτιστικές και κοινωνιολογικές σπουδές, διαβλέποντας αρκετά νωρίς τις οδυνηρές συνέπειες της κουλτούρας του νέου επιθετικού καπιταλισμού στην κοινωνική, επαγγελματική και προσωπική ζωή του σύγχρονου Δυτικού ανθρώπου. Σε μια σειρά έργων του απέδειξε -με σχεδόν προφητικό τρόπο- ότι η νέα κουλτούρα οδηγεί αναπόδραστα στη διάβρωση, αν όχι στην οριστική απαξίωση, εννοιών όπως ο δημόσιος χώρος, η αλληλεγγύη και η πολιτική συμμετοχή. Εν προκειμένω, σε μια κουλτούρα όπου προκρίνονται η αστάθεια, ο ανταγωνισμός, η βραχυπρόθεσμη αντίληψη του χρόνου, κι ένα είδος «ασφυκτικά» αυτάρεσκου ατομικισμού, κανένας δεν έχει πια λόγο να νοιαστεί για τον συνάνθρωπό του και κανένας δεν έχει πια λόγο να πιστέψει ότι η συνεργασία ή η συλλογική δράση μπορεί να επιφέρει το οποιοδήποτε αποτέλεσμα. Επί αυτής της βάσης, το δυσθεώρητο ύψος του ποσοστού αποχής στις πρόσφατες ευρωεκλογές επιβεβαιώνει ότι ο Ρίτσαρντ Σένετ εκτός από διορατικός παραμένει και επίκαιρος.

Με αφορμή τη μετάφραση ενός ακόμη έργου του στα ελληνικά (Η Κουλτούρα του Νέου Καπιταλισμού, εκδ. Σαββάλας), είχαμε την ευκαιρία να μιλήσουμε μαζί του για τη διεθνή οικονομική κρίση.

- Στο βιβλίο σας «Η Κουλτούρα του Νέου Καπιταλισμού» αναδεικνύετε και εξετάζετε τις κοινωνικές επιπτώσεις του παγκόσμιου καπιταλισμού των ημερών μας. Θα συμφωνούσατε με την άποψη ότι η ίδια αυτή κουλτούρα συνιστά μια από τις κύριες αιτίες της οικονομικής κρίσης;

- Ο κοινωνικός αντίκτυπος των νέων συνθηκών εργασίας είναι αναμφίβολα αρνητικός. Οδηγεί στον αποπροσανατολισμό των εργαζομένων και την αποδυνάμωση του κόσμου της εργασίας. Οι εργαζόμενοι σήμερα δηλώνουν και είναι λιγότερο αφοσιωμένοι στους οργανισμούς και τις επιχειρήσεις όπου και εργάζονται, και την ίδια στιγμή, εμφανίζονται λιγότερο αλληλέγγυοι στις μεταξύ τους σχέσεις και συνεργασίες. Η αιτία αυτών των φαινομένων βρίσκεται, κατά τη γνώμη μου, σε μια θεμελιώδη μεταβολή της αντίληψης του χρόνου. Ο εργαζόμενος καλείται να κινηθεί με μεγάλη ταχύτητα από τη μια θέση εργασίας στην άλλη, αλλά και από τη μια εταιρεία στην άλλη. Μαθαίνει, ως εκ τούτου, να αντιλαμβάνεται τον χρόνο με έναν τρόπο τελείως διαφορετικό από ό,τι στο παρελθόν. Ο χρόνος καθίσταται βραχύς και σύντομος. Δεν υπάρχουν πια μακροπρόθεσμες δεσμεύσεις, φιλοδοξίες ή σκοποί. Σε αυτό το πλαίσιο, δεν πρέπει να μας εκπλήσσει το γεγονός ότι οι εργαζόμενοι εμφανίζονται ανίκανοι να αντισταθούν στη σημερινή κρίση. Στην πραγματικότητα δεν επιθυμούν να καταβάλουν την παραμικρή προσπάθεια αντίστασης σε συλλογικό επίπεδο. Κι αυτό διότι έχουν εκπαιδευτεί να αντιλαμβάνονται τον χώρο εργασίας ως έναν τομέα της ζωής, όπου κυριαρχούν ο εσωτερικός ανταγωνισμός και οι επιφανειακές, βραχυπρόθεσμες σχέσεις.

Χρηματιστηριακή αξία

- Πολλοί αναλυτές υποστηρίζουν ότι η σημερινή οικονομική συγκυρία δεν αποτελεί τίποτε παραπάνω από την ολοκλήρωση ενός ακόμη οικονομικού κύκλου. Θα συμφωνούσατε με αυτή την άποψη;

- Πράγματι, ο καπιταλισμός χαρακτηρίζεται από κύκλους ανάπτυξης και ύφεσης. Κατά συνέπεια, οφείλω να συμφωνήσω: μια ανάλογη κρίση ήταν μάλλον αναμενόμενη. Ωστόσο, ο νέος καπιταλισμός, είναι ριζικά διαφορετικός σε σχέση με εκείνον του παρελθόντος, κι αυτό το γεγονός έχει την ιδιαίτερη σημασία του. Να εξηγηθώ. Ο νέος καπιταλισμός είναι χρηματιστηριακός, δεν σχετίζεται δηλαδή με την παραγωγή προϊόντων ή υπηρεσιών. Τουναντίον. Σε αντίθεση με ό,τι συνέβαινε σε παλαιότερες εποχές, η αξία μιας εταιρείας δεν συναρτάται με την παραγωγή και τη δυνατότητά της να παραμείνει υγιής και μακροπρόθεσμα επικερδής, αλλά κρίνεται επί τη βάσει των τριμηνιαίων αποτελεσμάτων που επιτυγχάνει. Ο βραχυπρόθεσμος αυτός προσανατολισμός σε συνδυασμό με την ανάγκη για ολοένα υψηλότερες αξίες μετοχών οδηγεί αναπόδραστα στην απαξίωση της έννοιας της σταθερότητας. Η σταθερότητα -στο επίπεδο του αριθμού των εργαζομένων που απασχολούν, της εσωτερικής οργάνωσής τους κ.λπ.- γίνεται πλέον αντιληπτή ως πρόσκομμα. Θεωρείται εμπόδιο, μια και αφαιρεί από τις επιχειρήσεις τη δυνατότητα να αποδείξουν στις χρηματιστηριακές αγορές και τους μετόχους ότι παραμένουν δυναμικές και σε εγρήγορση. Η δική μου άποψη, για να συνοψίσω, είναι ότι, σε αντίθεση με αντίστοιχες περιπτώσεις στο παρελθόν, η αστάθεια και η επιδίωξη της ελαστικότητας από πλευράς των επιχειρήσεων αποτέλεσε παράγοντα που οδήγησε σε αυτή την κρίση. Με άλλα λόγια, η νέα κουλτούρα των επιχειρήσεων συνέβαλε σε αναντίρρητα μεγάλο βαθμό στην εκδήλωση του φαινομένου.

- Στην πηγή των σημερινών δεινών βρίσκεται για πολλούς αναλυτές η δημιουργία και αξιοποίηση χρηματιστηριακών προϊόντων, τα οποία μάθαμε να αποκαλούμε τοξικά. Από ό,τι φαίνεται παρά την ευρύτατη διάδοσή τους, η γνώση μας γι' αυτά παρέμενε πρόδηλα ελλιπής. Ποια είναι η γνώμη σας γι' αυτό το γεγονός;

- Το συγκεκριμένο ζήτημα διαθέτει αναντίρρητα κάτι το ιλαροτραγικό. Φανταζόμασταν πάντοτε ότι όσοι διαθέτουν την ικανότητα να κερδίζουν πολλά χρήματα και να παραγάγουν πλούτο, διαθέτουν ταυτόχρονα και την απαιτούμενη γνώση για κάτι τέτοιο, γνωρίζουν δηλαδή σε βάθος αυτό που κάνουν. Η αλήθεια όμως -η αλήθεια που μας αποκάλυψε αυτή η κρίση- είναι ότι μπορεί να είσαι χαζός και παρ' όλα αυτά να κερδίζεις πολλά χρήματα. Μπορεί δηλαδή να μην καταλαβαίνεις τι πουλάς, τι αγοράζεις, αλλά να κερδίζεις παρ' όλα αυτά πολλά, πάρα πολλά λεφτά. Κι αυτό είδαμε τους τελευταίους μήνες. Οι άνθρωποι στην κορυφή, οι σούπερ πλούσιοι, δεν είχαν κατανοήσει το περιεχόμενο του τι συναλλάσσονταν. Αποδεικνύεται, συνεπώς, ότι οι ταλαντούχοι και οικονομικά ενάρετοι υπήρξαν και βλάκες, μια και αγνοούσαν την ίδια τη φυσιογνωμία των προϊόντων που τους βοηθούσαν να πλουτίζουν. Αυτή η άγνοια, θεωρώ, εξηγεί και τους λόγους για τους οποίους η εκδήλωση της κρίσης υπήρξε τόσο ταχεία.

Η ιστορία επαναλαμβάνεται

- Πόσο σύμφωνο σας βρίσκουν τα μέτρα που έχουν ήδη ληφθεί για την αντιμετώπιση της κρίσης στο επίπεδο είτε των εθνικών κυβερνήσεων είτε των παγκόσμιων οργανισμών;

- Δεν με βρίσκουν καθόλου σύμφωνο. Αρνούμαι να αποδεχθώ ότι η σωτηρία μας από την κρίση θα εξασφαλιστεί μέσω της διάσωσης και της αναζωογόνησης του υφιστάμενου συστήματος. Μου φαίνεται παράλογη η πεποίθησή μας ότι θα υπερβούμε την κρίση, θέτοντας εκ νέου σε κίνηση το οικονομικό σύστημα που μας οδήγησε σε αυτήν. Ως εκ τούτου, εκτιμώ ότι οι κυβερνήσεις διαπράττουν ένα οδυνηρό σφάλμα. Η προσήλωση στο χρήμα και στη διάσωσή του είναι ένα ανεκδιήγητο λάθος. Κι αν δεν το αντιληφθούμε, τότε -όπως μας δίδαξε ο Μαρξ- θα δούμε την ιστορία να επαναλαμβάνεται ως φάρσα.

- Πώς θα αξιολογούσατε την κυβέρνηση Ομπάμα;

- Οσον αφορά την κυβέρνηση Ομπάμα, της οποίας είμαι υπέρμαχος, φαίνεται ότι προσπαθεί να φέρει στο προσκήνιο ανθρώπους που διαθέτουν μια κάποια γνώση και κατάρτιση. Στην αρχή είχε πολλούς στην ομάδα του, οι οποίοι υπήρξαν οι αρχιτέκτονες του συστήματος που τώρα βλέπουμε να καταρρέει. Σήμερα, όμως, δίνει την εντύπωση ότι τους απομακρύνει, επιλέγοντας να ακολουθήσει μια πιο πρόσφορη κατά τη γνώμη μου στρατηγική. Μοιάζει να θέλει να βελτιώσει τις συνθήκες στον χώρο εργασίας. Νομίζω ότι αυτή είναι η σωστή κατεύθυνση. Πρέπει να βρούμε τρόπους να δημιουργήσουμε εργασία και όχι -ή όχι μόνον- τρόπους διάσωσης των τραπεζών.

Ο θατσερισμός

- Θα λέγατε ότι η κρίση μπορεί να οδηγήσει σε ενίσχυση των συντηρητικών απόψεων και πολιτικών;

- Εκτιμώ ότι στην Αγγλία θα έχουμε σίγουρα την επιστροφή σε μια συντηρητική κυβέρνηση και μέρος αυτής της μεταβολής ίσως σημάνει την περαιτέρω αποδυνάμωση του κράτους πρόνοιας ή ακόμη και την πλήρη διάλυσή του. Δεν σας κρύβω ότι αυτός είναι ένας μεγάλος φόβος που έχω. Καθότι όταν ο κόσμος αγωνιά και αισθάνεται ανασφαλής, τότε τείνει να εξωραΐζει κάποιο φανταστικό παρελθόν όπου τα πράγματα υπήρξαν υποτίθεται καλύτερα. Αυτό, λοιπόν, το χρυσό παρελθόν θα μπορούσε κάλλιστα να θεωρηθεί στην περίπτωση της Αγγλίας η περίοδος Θάτσερ. Ξεχνούμε όμως το πόσο πόνο και πόσο μίσος είχε προκαλέσει η Θάτσερ.

Ο καπιταλισμός διαβρώνει το αίσθημα αλληλεγγύης

- Αρκετές φορές έχετε υποστηρίξει ότι το διακύβευμα για την ευρωπαϊκή αριστερά των ημερών μας είναι να πείσει ότι ο σοσιαλισμός μπορεί να ανανεωθεί. Τι θα μπορούσε να σημαίνει σήμερα σοσιαλισμός;

- Σημαίνει να καταβάλεις προσπάθεια να ανανεώσεις την ιδέα του χώρου εργασίας ως του χώρου όπου θεμελιώνεται ο σοσιαλισμός. Σημαίνει να βοηθάς στην ανάπτυξη του ανθρώπινου κεφαλαίου, επενδύοντας στο ταλέντο των ανθρώπων. Σημαίνει, τέλος, να κατορθώσεις να πείσεις τις επιχειρήσεις ότι οφείλουν να υιοθετήσουν μια μακροπρόθεσμη οπτική. Με λίγα λόγια, το κέντρο της προσοχής μας οφείλει να μετατοπιστεί. Πρέπει να εξετάσουμε πώς δουλεύουμε και να βελτιώσουμε τις συνθήκες εργασίας. Η ερώτηση που καλούμαστε να απαντήσουμε είναι εξαιρετικά απλή: τι κάνει εν τέλει κοινωνικό τον χώρο της εργασίας, τον χώρο δηλαδή όπου πολλοί άνθρωποι δουλεύουν μαζί; Η ρητορική του σοσιαλισμού υπήρξε έως σήμερα διαφορετική. Οι σοσιαλιστές μιλούσαν όλα αυτά τα χρόνια για την πολυπολιτισμικότητα, τους μετανάστες, αλλά όχι για την εργασία. Δεν ισχυρίζομαι ότι κάτι τέτοιο είναι λάθος. Απλώς θεωρώ ότι ο πολιτιστικός σοσιαλισμός αυτού του είδους δεν μπορεί να μας βοηθήσει να βγούμε από την κρίση. Αν θέλουμε πραγματικά να βγούμε από την κρίση, πρέπει να αναζητήσουμε το επίκεντρό της. Αυτή είναι και μία από τις κεντρικές ιδέες του βιβλίου που ετοιμάζω. Η όποια αναγέννηση θα έρθει μόνον διαμέσου της αναγέννησης του χώρου και του θεσμού της εργασίας. Δεν μπορεί να έρθει μέσω της προστασίας του κοινωνικού ιστού διαμέσου των υπηρεσιών του κράτους πρόνοιας. Το πρόβλημα δεν βρίσκεται στο κράτος πρόνοιας, αλλά στις σχέσεις παραγωγής.

- Πόσο αισιόδοξος μπορεί κανείς να είναι σήμερα σχετικά με την ίδια τη δημοκρατία; Μπορεί η κρίση να λειτουργήσει ως παράγοντας αναγέννησης της δημοκρατίας στα επόμενα χρόνια;

- Θα έπρεπε να οδηγήσει στην αναγέννηση της δημοκρατίας, αλλά μάλλον δεν θα το κάνει. Μην ξεχνάτε ότι ο νέος καπιταλισμός οδήγησε στην αποδυνάμωση των δημοκρατικών αξιών. Εχω πραγματευτεί αυτό το ζήτημα στο βιβλίο μου «The Corrosion of Character». Ο σύγχρονος τρόπος καπιταλιστικής οργάνωσης της εργασίας διαβρώνει το όποιο συναίσθημα αλληλεγγύης. Οι άνθρωποι γίνονται περισσότερο ατομικιστές. Γι' αυτό τον λόγο εκτιμώ ότι οι άνθρωποι που μεγάλωσαν σε αυτό το σύστημα, δηλαδή όλοι όσοι είναι είκοσι ή και τριάντα χρονών, δεν έχουν μάθει τι σημαίνει συνεργασία, διότι δεν βίωσαν ποτέ κάτι τέτοιο στον χώρο της εργασίας τους. Είναι δύσκολο να απαιτήσεις από τους ανθρώπους που στον χώρο εργασίας τους έχουν πολύ μικρή εμπειρία από δημοκρατικές διαδικασίες, να καταλάβουν ότι η δημοκρατία μπορεί να βοηθήσει την κατάσταση. Δεν νομίζω ότι κάτι τέτοιο περνά καν από το μυαλό τους. Τους ζητάμε λοιπόν ξαφνικά να υιοθετήσουν πρακτικές συμμετοχής που δεν γνωρίζουν ότι μπορεί να έχουν αποτέλεσμα. Θα ήταν ωραίο, μακάρι να γινόταν, αλλά αμφιβάλλω. Γι' αυτόν ακριβώς τον λόγο θεωρώ ότι επιβάλλεται να εστιάσουμε την προσοχή μας στο χώρο εργασίας και να δούμε πώς αυτός μπορεί να αλλάξει. Καθότι δεν υπάρχει κανένα άλλο πρόσφορο μέσο για να εκπαιδεύσουμε εκ νέου τους ανθρώπους στη συμμετοχή.

Στο Χάρβαρντ ύστερα από μια τυχαία συνάντηση

Ο Ρίτσαρντ Σένετ γεννήθηκε το 1943, στο Σικάγο, στους κόλπους μιας έντονα πολιτικοποιημένης οικογένειας. Ο πατέρας και οι θείοι του ήταν μέλη του Κομμουνιστικού Κόμματος και πολέμησαν στο πλευρό των Δημοκρατών στον Ισπανικό Εμφύλιο, ενώ η μητέρα του συμμετείχε ενεργά στο εργατικό κίνημα της εποχής.

Η πρώτη αγάπη του Σένετ ήταν η μουσική και πιο συγκεκριμένα το τσέλο. Δεκαέξι ετών συμμετείχε ήδη ως ερμηνευτής σε μουσικά σύνολα και στα δεκαοκτώ του έγινε δεκτός στη φημισμένη σχολή Juliard. Ωστόσο, μια σπάνια ασθένεια θα ματαιώσει οριστικά τις προσδοκίες μίας λαμπρής καριέρας.

Σε αυτή τη δύσκολη για τον ίδιο προσωπικά περίοδο και συγκεκριμένα το 1962 θα συναντήσει τυχαία τον καθηγητή Κοινωνιολογίας Ντέιβιντ Ρίσμαν. Ο διάσημος καθηγητής τον προσκαλεί να σπουδάσει στο Χάρβαρντ, κι ο Σένετ αποδέχεται.

Το 1999, έπειτα από μία αναμφίβολα αξιοζήλευτη ακαδημαϊκή πορεία στο Yale, στο Brandeis και στο Πανεπιστήμιο της Νέας Υόρκης, ο Σένετ αποφασίζει να δεχτεί τη θέση καθηγητή Κοινωνιολογίας και θεωριών του πολιτισμού στο London School of Economics και να εγκατασταθεί στο Λονδίνο. Εκεί ζει και διδάσκει έως σήμερα. Ανάμεσα στα έργα της τελευταίας περιόδου ξεχωρίζουν τα ακόλουθα:

The craftsman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), Practising Culture (Oxon: Routledge, 2007), The Culture the New Capitalism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), Respect in an age of inequality (Νέα Υόρκη: W.W. Norton, 2003), Τhe corrosion of character (Νέα Υόρκη: W.W. Norton, 1998).

Στα ελληνικά κυκλοφορούν:

Η Κουλτούρα του Νέου Καπιταλισμού (εκδ. Σαββάλας, 2008), Οι Χρήσεις της Αταξίας (εκδ. Τροπή, 2003), Η Τυραννία της Οικειότητας (εκδ. Νεφέλη, 1999).

Πηγή: www.Kathimerini.gr

Ευχαριστώ πολύ την Έλβα, που μου έκανε γνωστό το συγκεκριμένο άρθρο.


Real `Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' gravely ill

Real `Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' gravely ill

They were childhood chums. Then they drifted apart, lost touch completely, and only renewed their friendship decades later, when illness struck.

Not so unusual, really.

Except she is Lucy Vodden -- the girl who was the inspiration for the Beatles' 1967 psychedelic classic "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" -- and he is Julian Lennon, the musician son of John Lennon.

They are linked together by something that happened more than 40 years ago when Julian brought home a drawing from school and told his father, "That's Lucy in the sky with diamonds."

Just the sort of cute phrase lots of 3- or 4-year-olds produce -- but not many

have a father like John Lennon, who used it as a springboard for a legendary song that became a centerpiece on the landmark album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

"Julian got in touch with me out of the blue, when he heard how ill I was, and he said he wanted to do something for me," said the 46-year-old Vodden, who has lupus, a chronic disease where the immune system attacks the body's own tissue.

Lennon, who lives in France, sent his old friend flowers and vouchers she could use to buy plants at a local gardening center, since working in her garden is one of the few activities she is still occasionally well enough to enjoy. More importantly, he has offered her friendship and a connection to more carefree days. They communicate mostly by text message.

"I wasn't sure at first how to approach her. I wanted at least to get a note to her," Julian Lennon told The Associated Press. "Then I heard she had a great love of gardening, and I thought I'd help with something she's passionate about, and I love gardening too. I wanted to do something to put a smile on her face."

Vodden admits she enjoys her association with the song, but doesn't particularly care for it. Perhaps that's not surprising. It was thought by many at the time, including BBC executives who banned the song, that the classic was a paean to LSD because of the initials in the title. Plus, she and Julian were 4 years old in 1967, the "Summer of Love" when "Sgt. Pepper" was released to worldwide acclaim. She missed the psychedelic era to which the song is indelibly linked.

"I don't relate to the song, to that type of song," said Vodden, described as "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes" in the lyrics. "As a teenager, I made the mistake of telling a couple of friends at school that I was the Lucy in the song and they said, 'No, it's not you, my parents said it's about drugs.' And I didn't know what LSD was at the time, so I just kept it quiet, to myself."

There's no doubt the fanciful lyrics and swirling musical effects draw heavily on the LSD experiences that were shaping Lennon's artistic output at the time -- although many of the musical flourishes were provided by producer George Martin, who was not a drug user."The imagery in the song is partly a reflection of John's drug experiences, and partly his love of `Alice in Wonderland,'" said Steve Turner, author of "A Hard Day's Write," a book that details the origins of every Beatles song. "At the time it came out, it seemed overtly psychedelic, it sounded like some kind of trip. It was completely new at the time. To me it is very evocative of the period."



Agriculture Holds Key to Solving Global Warming

Agriculture, so often cited as a factor in global decline - for claiming natural grasslands that store carbon, soil erosion and pesticide runoff - could become a big part of the solution to global warming, according to a hopeful report by Worldwatch Institute released today.
Innovations in food production and land use that are ready to be put to work could reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to roughly 25 percent of global fossil fuel emissions and be managed to reduce carbon already in the atmosphere as well, according to WWI and Ecoagriculture Partners.
Carbon capture technology remains unproven and will take a decade at least to put into operation. By contrast, agricultural and land use management practices that are ready today could be employed to sequester carbon through photosynthesis by growing and sustaining more plants.

Source: Environmental News Network




No plastic containers in micro.

2. No water bottles in freezer.

3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

John Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well.

Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer.

Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us.

He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers.

This especially applies to foods that contain fat.

He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else.

Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc.

He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.

Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food.

You should cover food with a paper towel instead.

Please circulate it to all the people you know.

Cancer update - Cancer News from John Hopkins


English oddities

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,

But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,

Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,

Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,

And I give you a boot would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,

Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,

Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,

And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,

But though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him.

But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.

There is neither egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;

neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren’t invented in England .

We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,

we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,

and a guinea pig is neither form Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is that writers write but fingers don’t fing,

grocers don’t groce and hammer don’t ham.

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them,

what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English

should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.

We have noses that run and feet that smell.

And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,

while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language

in which your house can burn up as it burns down,

in which you fill in a form by filling it out,

and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

So, if Father is Pop, how come Mother isn’t Mop?

And that is just the beginning – even though it is the end.


Why should I care?

In a single year, the Arctic lost an area the size of Alaska. So how long before it melts altogether? Juliette Jowit meets the British explorers risking their lives to find out.
On a cold Monday in December, one of Britain's most experienced polar explorers is sitting in an even colder room in Portsmouth, explaining his latest mission. The temperature has been turned down to a mere -20C, tropical by comparison to the almost inconceivable conditions he will have to endure during his next expedition to the Arctic. There, temperatures can drop as low as -90C; it is dark all day or the sun can blind people in minutes; the explorers will wake up, their eyelashes frozen together, in sleeping bags full of shards of ice; the ground beneath the trekkers' feet will be only inches of frozen water which can at any moment open into icy rivers which will kill almost instantly, and, apart from the odd grey seal, the only life they are likely to meet is a hungry polar bear.
Meeting Pen Hadow for the first time is something of a shock. He is the first man in history to have managed one of the ultimate feats of human endurance - to trek solo and unaided to the North Pole. But instead of the great strapping giant of a man you might expect, the 46-year-old is slightly built, and his hand, when he shakes mine hello, is almost the hand of a woman. As Hadow talks his breath frosts the air in front of his face, but he looks unperturbed while sitting still in this giant concrete freezer. Such small extremities, along with his brown eyes, olive skin and naturally low heart rate, make him ideally suited to a life of spending months at a time alone or responsible for teams of amateurs in one of the most inhospitable environments on earth.
Now, though, Hadow is about to embark on a very different expedition. In February he will leave northern Canada to trek more than 1,000km to the North Pole; what's different this time is that he is travelling with two fellow polar explorers, his friends Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley, and they will be dragging with them not just food and repair kits but 100kg sleds each, laden with equipment to take up to 12m readings of the depth and density of snow and ice beneath their feet.
The readings that Hadow and his team are taking will feed into our understanding of the Arctic's relationship with climate change. Based on occasional submarine journeys and more recently satellite data, charts of the total area of Arctic sea ice have shown a gradual decline over the past 40 years. Then, in 2007, the line on the chart appeared to drop off a cliff, plunging below 5,000,000 sq km a full three decades ahead of forecasts. The dramatic events of two summers ago, when a Russian submarine rushed to plant a flag under the pole and Canadian and European governments tersely laid rival claims to sovereignty, led many scientists to warn that the Arctic sea ice could disappear entirely during the summer months much sooner than had been feared.
Most experts agree on the impact this will have on 5m Arctic inhabitants and the rest of the world - from the loss of the unique habitat that exists under the ice to rising global sea levels and possible changes to the ocean circulation and the weather patterns of the whole planet. Yet forecasts for when this will happen range from just four years to the end of the century. The reason is that very little is understood about the depth and density of the sea ice, and therefore the total volume of water frozen at the top of the world. This is what Hadow's Catlin Arctic Survey - appropriately sponsored by an insurance company - hopes to put right by providing the much-needed data about how much ice is left, and so help work out how much time we have to prepare for what is probably the most immediate, truly global threat of climate change. The survey is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Prince of Wales and the conservation charity WWF.
"If you want to understand climate, we should invest more in making observations of climate change, and as the Arctic ocean is the amplifier of global warming, we should concentrate on the Arctic region to understand how fast the warming is taking place," says Wieslaw Maslowski, a research associate professor in oceanography at the US Naval Postgraduate School and science adviser to the Catlin survey.
Hadow puts it more chivalrously: "I see the Arctic as a maiden newly discovered on the social scene, and we're melting away her petticoats, and there are some avaricious types peering underneath, and someone needs to defend her honour."
Hadow's defining 75-day trek to the North Pole in 2003, alone and with no aeroplanes to resupply him, began with a spur-of-the-moment promise to his father on his deathbed, a promise which was to haunt him for 10 years through two earlier failed attempts and financial and health problems. So obsessed did he become that in his autobiography, Solo, Hadow wrote: "Above all other things, even the birth of my son, it seemed to be absolutely central to my being."
The roots of that trip and Hadow's long love affair with the Arctic lie deeper, though. His parents Nigel and Anne hired a nanny named Enid Wigley who had looked after Scott of the Antarctic's son Peter, and her routine involved teaching the young Pen to endure the cold by leaving him outside. She also spent years telling him stories of Antarctic explorers.
Years later, drifting in an unhappy job with sports management group IMG, Hadow found a book in the library of the Royal Geographical Society which was to bring
back those memories, lead him to both poles, and now set him on his mission to alert the world to the imminent threat to the Arctic. The book was the translated diaries of an obscure 19th-century German ornithologist called Bernhard Adolph Hantzsch who, after being shipwrecked, died trying to trek across the far north of Canada to find a ship home. Hadow was captivated and decided to finish the German's journey.
"I remember walking back to the office, thinking: 'Of all the books I have, 90% of them are written by adventurers and explorers and scientists: Francis Chichester, Jacques Cousteau, Chris Bonington, Ranulph Fiennes, [Robin] Hanbury-Tenison,'" recalls Hadow. "It never occurred to me until that moment that I could ever lead a life approximate to those. In that moment I thought: 'I'm going to start this journey.'"
The official history records that, thanks to "Nanny" Wigley and Hantzsch, Hadow advertised for a companion, made his first journey, and was hooked. Reading between the lines of his biography, though, there appears to be another crucial factor in his career choice: an extraordinarily strong need to prove himself, from hanging upside-down from trees as a child to taking up competitive gardening and school sports.
"There were lots of reasons why I did it [the solo trek] which were based around this vow I made, the main reason being that at the time it was regarded as the ultimate feat to be done," Hadow admits in conversation.
If anything, the latest expedition comes even closer to fulfilling this need. After the solo feat, Hadow was researching his book, and while in bed one night read a report by the US Navy discussing design changes to its ships undertaken to cope with changing sea ice because of global warming.
"I thought: 'Even I don't really know about this and I'm in the almost unique situation of having this relationship with the Arctic,'" he says. "I thought: 'I could be the amplifier or explainer; I might be the person to reach out to as wide an audience as possible, globally, to tell them what's going on.' That's what explorers do, classically. They discover information and then have the potential to engage audiences."
With a new reason to return to the Arctic, Hadow asked climate scientists how he could help. He discovered that measurements of sea ice began in the 1960s, but for three decades there were only annual submarine voyages, providing too little data to be sure what was happening more broadly. Since the 1990s, satellite maps have been used to calculate the height of snow and ice above the waterline, but experts have to make assumptions about the roughly five-sixths of mass underneath, and there is a "hole" in the data over the North Pole which is 1,600km across.
The satellites show that in 2007 alone, the Arctic sea ice lost an area nearly the size of Alaska, reaching an all-time low of 4,130,000sq km on 16 September. Following this and another poor year in 2008, the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre now calculates the permanent sea ice - measured in September at its nadir - is receding by 11.7% a decade, or an average area the size of Scotland every year.
Little is known about thickness, nor about the density of different layers of snow and compacted ice. Submarine data suggests a 40% thinning between the 1960s and 1990s. Last year the journal Geophysical Research Letters published a paper by three experts at University College London which calculated that the ice in the winter of 2007/8 was thinner than the previous five-year average by 26cm, plus or minus 5cm. The margin of error reflects the lack of long-term and wide-ranging data. Last September, despite a cooler summer, the sea ice only recovered to its second-lowest recorded extent, possibly because there was more thin first-year ice than usual. And some scientists think the total volume last year was even lower than 2007, says Maslowski.
Part of the wide range in estimates for when summer sea ice will disappear is due to uncertainty about how quickly the exposed darker sea will warm, triggering a cycle of more melting and warming. The models also differ in their varying assumptions about ice thickness. Maslowski, whose team has projected the most aggressive date - between 2010 and 2016, based on current trends - argues, for example, that too little is known about increasingly warmer water brought by ocean currents from the Pacific and Atlantic, and its contribution to melting sea ice.
A few scientists do venture to the far north, usually by boat or plane, to drill cores or take radar measurements, but in an area which in winter can cover up to 4% of the globe, there are only about a half a dozen such locations, says Seymour Laxon, one of UCL's experts. The problem is that few scientists have the inclination, physical endurance, time and money to do the training necessary to spend months in such harsh conditions, says Hadow, who has raised almost £3m and spent years planning the trip, including an extra delay after funding fell through for 2008.
"What captivated me more than anything was that I could do this," says Hadow. "For once in my life I was in the right place at the right time."
After the cold room, the explorers have more chilling work to do at the Institute of Naval Medicine in Portsmouth. As well as walking, the team expects to swim for up to 100 hours, dragging their specially designed sleds over "leads" of water which can open up between ice pans. While swimming they will wear bright-orange immersion suits, which they now put on, lowering themselves into the pool of icy water. Hadow says it's like being "shrink-wrapped". I tried it for myself and it was how I imagined it would feel to swim in mercury. The pool temperature is much warmer than the cold room, 4C, but because water conducts heat 26 times better than air, it "rips" the heat away from the explorers. The final test is to get back into the water in only their walking clothes to simulate what would happen if they fell through the ice. If they do, the water is likely to be even colder, probably below zero - salt water freezes at -1.8C.
Early polar explorations left a trail of graves - men killed by hypothermia, scurvy, gangrene and even poisoning after eating the livers of polar bears. Modern science has alerted those who have followed to many of these dangers, and provided remedies. But for all the advances in modern technology, many risks still remain, almost all of them bound up in the landscape over which the team will have to walk and swim.
"Your brain is so used to visual information pouring in that when you go there the instant impression is: there isn't anything up here - it's all white," says Hadow. In the first few days, the brain "retunes", and as the other senses are dulled by the cold and the heavy layers of clothing, the eyes become more alert.
"Some people talk about the Arctic as a monotonous wilderness of white, but if you open your eyes and look at the landscape, especially in spring, you realise that there are no whites whatsoever," says Hadow in Solo. "Everything is in shades and tones of pastel colours - cream, grey, blue, green, yellow, orange, pink - and only in the stark bright light at the height of the polar summer, when the sun is high in the sky, do you begin to see true whites among the other colours."
Nor is the Arctic a great flat glass to glide over. Before each trip, Hadow spends hours on Dartmoor pulling strings of tyres around tors, getting caught on and under rocks, untangling, pulling, shoving and scrabbling over cold wet granite to prepare for the huge pressure ridges he will have to clamber over: steep walls of frozen slippery ice rubble which test both his physical strength and patience. Even on the "flat" pans, the ice is "rough, cracked, pitted and pocked with holes, lumps, bumps, projections and cracks where your burden becomes wedged or threatens to topple over, spilling its load," he writes.
Then there are the wind and currents, which constantly work on the great floating, constantly changing landscape, grinding ice together, pulling pans apart, sometimes so "rapid as to equal a ship running before the wind", to cite the evocative description of the ancient Norse writer of Kongespeilet. Not infrequently travellers have to make huge detours or backtrack over a ridge or rubble field because of an impassable lead; occasionally they wake to find they have drifted south of the point they began walking the previous day. And the sounds of all this movement are amplified by the otherwise silent emptiness. The landscape is so empty that in 2003 Hadow recorded that the only life he encountered were three seals, one snow bunting and the tracks of a single polar bear.
By day, the whooshing of skis and scratching of poles and the roar of wind past their ears dominate the explorers' world. At night, however, after the cooker is turned off, they lie with their heads on the ice and listen to it. "You wouldn't conceive such random movements could produce such metronomic sounds: you get this der-der-der-der-der-errrr, der-der-der-der-der-errrr. It's disconcerting because it tends to be the ice breaking up around your tent, often literally around you. This happens three or four times in an expedition," says Hadow. "You have to take a view: will this open up and will we be falling in in the morning, or will it be little hairline cracks rather than major fractures?" Sometimes the wind also beats against the tent like a drum.
Today, the biggest threats Arctic explorers face are those things that happen quickly, before help can be summoned from a few hours' away, or possibly days if the weather is bad. There is the moment-to-moment threat of falling through the ice - a risk which rises with every year the ice recedes. There are the constant dangers of being crushed by sleds, a sudden serious illness, and always the fear of a polar bear attack. Then there's the nightly gamble with carbon monoxide poisoning from burning stoves inside tents.
And all the time, of course, there is the ever-present, grinding cold. In temperatures as low as -50C, with wind chill that ...#8594; ...#8592; can sink to -90C, cold remains a constant danger. Travellers cannot stop for more than 10 minutes to mend equipment or they start to freeze - mucus dries like gravel in the nose, contact lenses would freeze to eyeballs, unprotected parts of the body can be frostbitten before you have noticed, fillings in teeth expand and contract, sweat freezes under clothes, and as the temperature drops the human brain begins to slow, making people less responsive to problems - in extreme cases causing them to make the problem worse by acting in exactly the wrong way, such as undressing.
The constant struggle over the ice, the stress and cold are compounded by exhaustion. To keep their sled weight down, the explorers calculate they can survive on a "deficit" of about 1,500-2,000 calories a day, but after two weeks their body starts to consume muscle to keep going. And, despite their exertions, sleep is often hard.
"For the first month you're cold every night, shivering," says Hartley, "then you worry about polar bears sniffing around looking for a canapé in a sleeping bag."
To cope with such conditions, Hadow adopts an almost obsessive regime of walking, eating from his "nosebag" of chocolate and nut rations, and checking his condition and his kit regularly. In a team, some risks are mitigated by having other people to help. But this time they will carry much more weight because of the measuring work and Hartley's cameras and video equipment, and the trio has also taken advice from a psychologist about how to cope with personality problems that might arise. Despite all these reasons, getting to the North Pole is still "85% in your head", says Hadow. "Over the 70-odd days I was there last time [for the solo trip], I would only think there was less than half a day when all things were good."
"It messes with your mind," he says in another conversation. "The Arctic is a dynamic surface, and there are all sorts of things that can go against you. It feels like you're against a mightier force, which is a disastrous way to reach your goal. It's like a white crucible. You put yourself or your team in and apply a Bunsen burner to the crucible, and all the fluff and juices are evaporated off and you're just left with the essence of those people."
For these reasons and the added difficulties of dragging extra weight, having additional tasks, raising many times the usual cost of a polar expedition, and - ironically - the worsening ice conditions, Hadow admits they cannot guarantee success. His own training has also been interrupted by one of the many viruses which gripped the UK this Christmas. "We cannot know whether we can do it," he admits. "But we're not just giving it a go - we're very locked on to going the distance, to 90 degrees [north]."
All being well, on 24 or 25 February the Catlin survey team will leave the base at Resolute Bay in northern Canada, be flown up to 80°N 140°W, where the multi-year ice begins, and start walking northeast along the line of 140° longitude. There can be no maps of ephemeral sea ice, and Hadow believes that the route has not been taken for 40 years, since Sir Wally Herbert, after whose wife Hadow has named his sled.
As they travel across the ice pans, a radar specially designed for the conditions, weighing just 4kg, will take a measurement every 10cm. The team will also stop regularly to drill cores of snow and ice and take measurements of the ocean temperatures and currents below. As they travel, Hadow will dictate notes into a special voice recorder about the regularity and make-up of ridges and other features. And Hartley, a multi-award-winning photographer of difficult environments, will capture their progress and the landscape. The data will be fed back via satellites to the scientists every night, and they hope that early results will be available before a UN meeting at Copenhagen in Denmark in December, when the world's governments will be asked to agree an ambitious treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions and so, it is hoped, reduce global warming and the resulting climate change.
"Once they have a figure for how long the Arctic sea ice will be there for, they will have to act," says Hartley.
Scientists already believe that melting ice is responsible for average air temperatures warming twice as fast in the Arctic as in the rest of the planet. So far they believe the melting of the floating ice has an undetectable effect on global sea levels and the expansion of the warming water contributes less than 1% of the annual average rise. But if the ice melts further, or disappears, that cycle of melting and warming will add noticeably to sea levels, and there are emerging concerns that the warming water temperatures are speeding up the melting of the Greenland ice cap, which could add metres to sea levels. Less certainly, the influx of fresh and warmer water could start to alter the planetary circulation of ocean currents and winds which dictate weather patterns.
At the extreme, this could trigger one of the more catastrophic "tipping points" of climate change - the switching-off of the "thermohaline circulation" which brings warm water from the Tropics to the northern Atlantic and sends cooler Arctic waters south - events which were dramatised, if somewhat fancifully, in the film The Day After Tomorrow. In the impeccably bureaucratic language required to achieve consensus among hundreds of scientists and governments, the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report described such an abrupt transition as a "low-confidence" event - that is, a 2 in 10 chance.
At best, Maslowski does not believe the results will give them more than a decade beyond his 2013 projection before the end of all summer ice. What then? Is it not too late?
"Even if it's too late to do anything about sea ice, what other wildernesses are we going to let go?" adds Hadow.
• Follow the expedition team - with regular updates on the explorers' progress, physical condition and more - at http://www.catlinarcticsurvey.com/
Source: The Guardian, UK