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Submitted by jdp on Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:30 pm

As climate change and its many impacts unfold, many worse than we had forecasted or feared, many observers have indicated that Earth is entering a “new normal.” This is not wrong. However, with respect to our ability to understand, adapt to, and predict environmental change from here on out, it is probably more accurate to say there is no normal. The climate and environment that we will contend with will be unlike any our species—much less our infrastructures, institutions, and cultures—has ever encountered. I agree with those who say, sometimes circumspectly and sometimes directly, that it is time to panic. Not in the sense of panic as uncontrollable fear or anxiety that can cause wildly unthinking behavior, but in the sense of another definition: a frenzied hurry to do something. Scientists hate to be called alarmist, but when the house is on fire, you sound the alarm.

New York Times, February, 2019



Submitted by jdp on Tue, 02/12/2019 - 10:19 am

Every day, it seems, there is another news story or reports of yet more evidence that the global climate is changing, either as we have predicted for years—or worse and faster. The climate system is incredibly complex, and climatologists, climate modelers and paleoclimatologists are furiously working to reduce the uncertainty. Despite the uncertainties and complexities, at this point it is clear that:

•Global mean temperatures are rising.

•Ocean heat content is increasing.

•Sea ice cover is, on average, decreasing (both in areal extent and thickness).

Arctic sea ice cover is in serious long-term decline (photo: Huffpost Canada)

•Ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking.

•Permafrost is thawing.

•Sea level is rising. 

•Changes in climate-sensitive biota, ecosystems, and landforms are all consistent with a warming climate. 

•The major driving force is a dramatic increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

International Studies Alumni: Where Are They Now? Kendall Hitch

Submitted by rmwr223 on Thu, 01/10/2019 - 12:33 pm

Pursuing her interest in politics and the study of Latin American societies, Kendall Hitch graduated in December of 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minors in both International Studies and Latin American Studies. In coming to choose these fields of study, Kendall shared how, “I have always been extremely intrigued by the way in which cross-cultural experiences force you out of your comfort zone and open you to new thought processes and ideas.” For Kendall, the International Studies minor has allowed her to focus her studies in the realm of international development through interdisciplinary coursework on UK’s campus and experiences abroad.


Submitted by jdp on Wed, 12/26/2018 - 05:15 pm

Just published in Progress in Physical Geography: Place Formation and Axioms for Reading the Natural LandscapeThis work is an attempt to develop some formalisms for analyzing the biophysical landscape from the perspective of place formation--how landscapes, environments, and places evolve and become different from each other. My original efforts were in the form of conceptual model, but (thanks in large measure to reviewers and critiques of earlier versions) I realized that (A) the critical principles could be reduced to axioms, and (B) a set of guidelines or axioms is a more effective (and honest) way to present the approach. The abstract is below:

A copy of the full text is attached.




Submitted by jdp on Thu, 11/29/2018 - 10:30 am

Eight Simple Techniques for Critiquing Academic Publications

Stuck reviewing an article manuscript, or preparing for yet another graduate seminar? Need to diminish the accomplishments of an annoying colleague or hated rival? Want to appear superior to the others in your roundtable discussion? Want to do these things without having to actually read the whole damn thing? Here are eight simple, effective techniques for providing negative critiques of academic papers, articles, and books.

1. The analysis is oversimplified; the problem is more complex than that.

Of course it is—it’s always more complex. The real world is infinitely complex, and no representation—words, pictures, equations, numbers, diagrams, or otherwise—can capture all of its richness and variety. Thus you can always find something potentially significant the author has omitted, and you can always correctly observe that reality is far more complicated.

2. Deconstructing the binary.

Discovering My Place

Submitted by bwo236 on Mon, 10/15/2018 - 01:20 am

The University of Kentucky is bigger than I understood before I sat wedged in with thousands of my fellow newly inducted freshman (or super junior in my case) and recognized this huge crowd was maybe a quarter of the undergraduate class on campus.  I added the graduate and professional populations and that was when I began to consider UK its own "Learning Town" in the middle of Lexington.

At this point, halfway through what I imagine will be four undergraduate semesters on campus, there is a lot of work but I am engaged with the material and enthusiastic to progress.  I intend to add some of the works I am creating for my classes here.  I intend to build a student portfolio with this bog.  I have some completed work I intend to post here, but I want to see what grade I get before I do.  I suppose I might try to document my overall UK experience in posts like this as well.  Or this might be the only post like this.  Time will tell.


Submitted by jdp on Thu, 09/27/2018 - 12:58 pm

As I write, river flooding and cleanup from Hurricane Florence in North and  South Carolina are ongoing. The storm was not a major one in terms of maximum sustained winds--only a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale when it made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, near Cape Fear, NC.  But the storm approached the coast very slowly, and moved only very slowly once it made landfall. That, and the areal extent of of the storm, resulted in quite a beating for the eastern Carolinas. 

Satellite image of Florence approaching the Carolina coast. 


Submitted by jdp on Mon, 09/03/2018 - 08:51 am

A couple of years ago I blogged about generalized Darwinism in a post called Occam’s SelectionThis is the idea that principles of variation, selection, and preservation or retention are applicable to development and evolution of many different phenomena. The GD label is most common in evolutionary economics, but the notion is constantly being reinvented in many different fields. 

A recent example is Selection for Gaia Across Multiple Scales, published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution. The issue is how biological natural selection, which operates at the level of individuals, could result in evolutionary trends at ecosystems and broader scales, including the self-regulating biotic/abiotic coupling of the global Earth system. 

Apply today: CESJ Lunch With Leaders, October 17th

Submitted by CRKO226 on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 02:41 pm

Lunch with Leaders will help bridge the gap between faculty and students by promoting valuable dialogue about diversity and social justice on UK's campus, the nation, and the world. Students who participate will have the opportunity to attend a catered lunch and dine with a faculty member who is affiliated with the CESJ and does research with social justice implications. 

CESJ will be accepting student applications for this event until September 17th. If space becomes limited, preference will be given to undergraduate student applicants.

Apply here: