Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Migration 13: Climate Changes, A Human Timetable, and The Canyon

William Ruddiman has been a scientist of climate (see over most of the recent span of a tremendous growth in the study of that subject, a growth that continues a two-century surge in earth/life sciences, marked by the work of Hutton, Darwin, Wegener, as well as in the study of humanity's story. His most recent effort -- which I am attempting to extract from here (and any re-statings and errors in this entry are, be assured, mine) -- resulted in Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate (Princeton 2005). His work does not directly deal with the Grand Canyon, of course, yet his thesis is an important element in understanding the Canyon's human context, its politics. His thesis also impacts heavily on the idea of wilderness and what it can mean if we properly comprehend humanity's history. 

Briefly stated, Ruddiman argues that human activities arising from the Neolithic Revolution have already had the not-to-be-understated result of preventing the start of a period of increasing glaciation. To show this, he summarizes the current picture of ice ages, emphasizing their periodicity. That periodicity indicated that a glacial was due and yet is not happening. In investigating why, he could find no convincing natural cause, and so studied human activities that might have increased the greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide and methane over the relevant period of the past 10+ millennia. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Migration 11: Wilson and the Standard View (concluded)

Done with the chimps, Wilson wants to learn (82 ff) about the past from current hunting-gathering societies, though it is not clear how influences of the past 10 millennia are to be partitioned off. He lists tribes, aggression between them & war, territoriality, arranged marriage, polygamy, disputes over women, social hunting. His lack of interest in language shows up when he compares such hunting to the methods of lions, and when he says social evolution uses an "auto-catalytic" mechanism. Homo sapiens is not differentiated from other hominids of the past million years. Cro-magnon and Neanderthals are conflated. He says female continuous sexual availability is tied to male action. Males, of course, are described at length as, (using the work of Robin Fox): with complex social skills, controlled, cunning, cooperative, attractive, good with kids, relaxed, tough, eloquent, competent, knowledgable, proficient. "Brave, clean and reverent", too, these boy scouts. Actually, such qualities must have been characteristic of all band members for selective success. His hunters and gatherers are not pressed by agricultural societies, nor do they migrate. When they do talk, there is a lot of arguing, although child care is "improved by close social bonding between males and females".

Migration 11: Wilson and the Standard View (revised)

In building up my picture of pre-Neolithic Homo sapiens, I am dependent on finding a variety of scientists, experts, commentators, who have written about the relevant issues at a level I can comprehend and engage with. I certainly have done no original research, unlike my writing based on Grand Canyon archival work. This requires a rather different sort of respect, which is easy to show for the work of Edward O. Wilson, who combines immense authority for his research, e.g. on ants and superorganisms, while commanding attention for his writings, e.g. on sociobiology, in which he ranges far in the subject of human nature. Which happens to be the title of his book (On Human Nature, 1978, Harvard) I am currently wrestling with.

I see twined themes on which we both proceed: 1. From (page) 19: "The question of interest is no longer whether human social behavior is genetically determined, it is to what extent." 
2. The answers to that question are, 96, deeply relevant and crucially important in the most important current issues of humanity and its future.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Migration 12: What Does Migration Have To Do With Grand Canyon, You Ask?

It seems it is important to stop a moment and answer that question. 

For one thing, there is much more I would like to write about migration, language, social organization, humanity's history, etc., that will not directly touch Grand Canyon matters, but would flesh out into a coherent picture of humanity, in the sense that how we evolved is vital information about how we live today. 
  Moreover, for the other, main, thing, I do believe that the fundamental reason for my trying to recover and present Grand Canyon's political, human, history is that the Canyon is, for today and continuing, an icon of immense significance for understanding what choices we humans are making about the world we live in and what we want it to be. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hualapai - NPS Core Team Meetings, Summary

This entry contains my summaries of the 2000-7 meetings of the Core Team, concerned with management and regulation on the Colorado along the reach of the border shared by Grand Canyon National Park (Park) and the Hualapai Tribe (HT), and on downstream into the area under the administration of Lake Mead National Recreation Area (LM). 

Since this is a very long entry with considerable detail, I have further condensed it in a related entry on this date, labeled Part 2. 

Hualapai - NPS Cooperation: An Experiment, Part 2


The dynamics and narrative arcs of the Core Team collaboration from 2000-4 are both inspiring and instructive. Set up within a formal framework, the series of 20+ meetings provided solid evidence that a multi-agency forum could coordinate constructively a range of matters related to a limited but highly important area of Grand Canyon management. The meetings were more important as a kind of switching center for information, discussion, and direction rather than as a place for decision and action. Negotiation and action were usually carried on by joint committees appointed as issues arose. What is striking is how the Core Team provided a face-to-face venue where the three entities had to deal with each other's realities -- interests, concerns, restrictions, etc. And personalities. Given that the principals of all three remained unchanged over almost five years of effort, it may be that this experiment was dependent on that particular mix of individuals. Certainly, the introduction of a new Hualapai Tribal Chair in the June 2004 session seems to have altered the tenor of the discussion. Had the meetings continued, perhaps this would have appeared only as an adjustment. However, there was only one more held in 2004. The three-meeting resumption in 2007-8 has no significant public documentation, and only Lake Mead provided continuity to the previous successful series. 

(Note: The detailed summaries are in an accompanying, very long, post of this date, titled "Hualapai - NPS Core Team Meetings, Summary".)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hualapai-GCNP Cooperation: An Experiment

The on-going story of managing river traffic through the Grand Canyon delights those who love complicated, detailed, fragmented complexes of issues. (See my Hijacking A River.) One story piece that has had less attention than it deserves concerns the lower river, the western end of the Canyon. This is variously described: 
The upper end of Lake Mead, fluctuating from the Grand Wash Cliffs up to a maximum at ~river mile 235, which not accidentally is at the Bridge Canyon site for the Hualapai Dam. Informally, this reservoir section is identified as starting near Separation Canyon (r.m. 239.5), and for some is the "flatwater" stretch of the Canyon. 
Another reference point to start is at Diamond Creek (r.m. 226); going down, it is described as the lower 40 miles.
Above that, other reaches are of connected interest, up to Whitmore Canyon and the Hualapai's helicopter landing spot (r.m 187 or 189.9 ?).

Before 1975, Lake Mead National Recreation Area administered the right bank while the 1883 Hualapai Reservation owned the left down to r.m. 273.3, with the common boundary being undefined, a matter that concerned nobody much as long as the usual assumption was that a dam was to be built that would flood the Canyon back to Kanab Creek. Once that assumption was reversed (1968), and Grand Canyon National Park was extended in 1975 along the south (left) bank to the Grand Wash Cliffs, the exact GCNP-Hualapai boundary became a contentious matter -- as I have described in several earlier posts. This Park enlargement removed LMNRA from the Canyon near the river, while leaving river trip end points like Pearce Ferry under LMNRA jurisdiction.