Last night I caught Surviving Progress as part of the Environmental Film Festival at Yale running this week until April 15. The documentary is by Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks with interviews with geneticists, economists, primatologists, financial analysts, and scientists regarding “business as usual” and if our conceived and applied economic systems are sustainable. The premise of the film is that our brain circuitry, as a species, hasn’t evolved for over 50,000 years, and that our genetic make-up is based on short-term, “fight or flight” gratification, gain, and survival tactics that don’t take into account, say, living beyond the age of thirty-five and together in enormous, high-consumption communities with increasingly scarce resources—whether these are land, clean water and air, food, or fuel.
A gorgeous example of mapping toponyms, names given to places which reflect both the geographic character of a site and its cultural and linguistic history. Derek Watkins, cartographer, put together this stunning map of streams color-coded by local vernaculars—or at least those recognized by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names—in his recent post, “Inundated with Place Names.”
“Lime green bayous follow historical French settlement patterns along the Gulf Coast and up Louisiana streams. The distribution of the Dutch-derived term kill (dark blue) in New York echoes the colonial settlement of “New Netherland” (as well as furnishing half of a specific toponym to the Catskill Mountains). … Washes in the southwest reflect the intermittent rainfall of the region, while streams named swamps (desaturated green) along the Atlantic seaboard highlight where the coastal plain meets the Appalachian Piedmont at the fall line.”
To see the full image on his website, check it out here. It’s worth a closer look.