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Field recording failures, managing microplastics, and the charm of carnivorous plants | Newsletter #58 -

Field recording failures, managing microplastics, and the charm of carnivorous plants | Newsletter #58

Aannyeong*, friend. 👋 

What can be learned from unsuccessful sound-recording excursions? How can the proliferation of microplastic particles be kept in check? How is the climate crisis fuelling worldwide inequalities? And just how sexy are Venus flytraps? 

Read on to find out.

*A casual Korean ‘hello’.

Soundscape of the week 

‘Water Flow in the Gariwang Mountain Moss Valley’: Sangsoo Kim’s recording from a moss-covered valley in the foothills of South Korea’s Mount Gariwangsan documents the babble of meltwater flowing over ancient rocks.

🤔 Interesting facts:

  • Mosses – non-flowering, rootless plants which reproduce by releasing spores – have survived for 450 million years (compared to Homo sapiens’ meager 192,000 years’ existence). Their longevity is due to the ability to photosynthesise between 5ºF (-15ºC) and 104ºF (40ºC), and survive lows of as much as -558ºF (-272ºC) and highs of 212ºF (100ºC) by becoming dormant.
  • The Baekdu-daegan mountain range (meaning: “a big mountain ridge”), of which Mount Gariwangsan is a part, runs the full length of the Korean Peninsula, through both North and South Korea.
  • Around 58,000 trees, comprising a 500-acre virgin forest considered sacred due to its connections with Korea’s last ruling dynasty, were cut down to allow the construction of a ski complex on Mount Gariwang for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Articles and essays

🐕 In ‘Lessons Learned from a Failed Field Recording’, curator Melissa Pons offers a poetic and insightful consideration of what can be learned from sound-recording expeditions which don’t achieve their desired intentions. 

🌍 The most recent episode of podcast Wind Is the Original Radio documents the sound of ‘Gentle Waves of the Black Sea’, as they lap against the stony coast of a secluded bay in Bulgaria. Additional episodes are available on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, with new episodes released every Friday.

From the extended community

♵ Micro- (and nano-) plastics, the product of “the lengthy breakdown of larger items”, which “absorb […] harmful toxins and pathogens”, are now omnipresent. In ‘‘We Can’t Carry On’: The Godfather of Microplastics on How to Stop Them’, marine biologist Richard Thompson counters the techno-optimist assumption that “a big gadget whizzing around in the middle of the Pacific gyre” will magically solve the problem, as opposed to robust legislation to curb production of “unnecessary, avoidable or problematic” plastics, like single-use items.

🦟 “Hapless insects are drawn to their mouths, their secretions, or climb down the slippery pitcher walls to get a taste. They never come back up again.” ‘Sex, Death, and Plants: The Subtle, Dangerous Seduction of Carnivorous Plants’ describes journalist Tove Danovich’s flirtation with this most alien of flora.

⚖️ The Environmental Justice Foundation’s report, In Search of Justice, provides a thorough analysis of “how the climate crisis is fuelling inequalities […] worldwide, with low-income, marginalised people […] being disproportionately affected by climate breakdown”, and calls for the Global North to “immediately cut their emissions and increase financial support for developing nations who did the least to cause this crisis”.

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Until next time, we wish you a regenerative week. 🙏

With best wishes,
Neil and Team

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Neil Clarke is an independent comics writer based in East London, who really wishes he could draw.