Concept and Methods of Julian Steward and Marvin Harris

Since the 1960s, the cultural ecological approach is known in Anthropology as a theoretical perspective that focuses on the study of human culture in relation to their surroundings. This perspective has laid down a stone in the development human ecology. The ecological anthropology, another perspective that deals with ecosystem of an area, appeared as an effective methodology to study human-nature relationship in anthropology, has also been developed on the ground of cultural ecology in anthropology criticizing the methodology as well as the arguments the earlier approach. Julian Steward was the founder of cultural ecology in anthropology who analyzed Sho-Shoni culture of Western America. He came to the filed as cultural ecologist through a book named Theory of Cultural Change: The Methodology of Multilinear Evolution-1955. Later, Marvin Harris, Robert Netting and some of the other anthropologists have involved in the development of this approach. Steward’s cultural ecology is evolved from his argument of multilinear revolution.

What is Multilinear Evolution?
Multilinear evolutionists argue that we cannot trace the development/evolution of culture in a unilinear way. Culture can be developed through numerous ways or lines. In the process of development, we can see various cultures that are evolved in different places taking different direction or combined again and forward in the same direction in the specific circumstance.
The term “multilinear evolution” was not coined by Julian Steward only it is associated with his name because of his contribution. For Steward, multilinear evolution means methodology based on the assumption that significant regularities in cultural change occur. According to Steward, we can see parallel developments among historically unrelated cultures. As a multilinear evolutionist anthropologist, Steward focuses on the following points.
  • Multiple development sequences (lines or events)
  • Empirical methods rather that deductive
  • Emphasized on particular cultures
  • Concreteness of specifically
  • Determination of cultural law.
Methodology of Multilinear Evolution
  • Parallelism and Causality: Classify cultural phenomenon/taxonomy as plain culture, African culture, and Chinese civilization and so on.
  • Consider each culure independently as a unique pattern of element.
How did the Multilinear Approach come?
  1. Determinism: At first, it was believed that environmental factor played prime roles in the formation of human culture and society.
  2. Possibilism: 

complete combustion and incomplete combustion

The differences between complete combustion and incomplete combustion are-
i) Complete Combustion
·        Complete combustion can be observed in a hydrocarbon fuel such as methane (CH4)
CH4+2O2 à CO2+2H2O
·        The products of combustion are simple CO2 and H2O.
·        In presence of O2 methane completely burns to form CO2 & H2O. Such combustion is called complete combustion.

ii) Incomplete combustion
·        Incomplete combustion can be also observed in a hydrocarbon fuel-methane (CH4).
CH4+O2à mostly (CO2+2H2O)+ traces of [CO+(HC)]
·        The products are CO2, H2O, CO emissions of various partially combusted hydrocarbons (HC).

If the temperature of combustion is not high enough or not enough O2 available or if the fuel is not given enough time to burn completely, then the fuel will not be completely oxidised, and some of the carbon will be released as CO, instead of CO2, there will be emissions of various partially combusted HC. Such combustion is called incomplete combustion.

Hybrid Automobile Technology

For many years, automakers have been attempting to design a viable electric vehicle. It has long been known that oil is a finite resource and with the demands for oil largely driven by America’s demands, as well as the ever-increasing demands of other industrialized nations, both automakers and governments have long been desiring of a pollution-free alternative that does not rely on oil and gasoline to run.
Why, then, have such efforts, with all the time and money spent on them, been largely unsuccessful? The answer is not a simple one, for there are many factors which act as driving forces in this case.
First, it is important to examine why the development of an electric, pollution-free vehicle, or at the very least the continuing development of hybrid gas-electric vehicles is a desirable goal. The world’s population is continuing to expand at a very fast rate in many developing nations. As these nations become more industrialized, their desire for automobiles, and thus oil, will increase. Also, nations such as China, with well over a billion people, are continuing to see an increased demand for automobiles.

This will only serve to accelerate two problems that we are currently facing on a global basis: demand for oil, and pollution.
Oil is a finite resource and it is currently unknown how much longer oil production can continue at current rates. In fact, oil production rates will need to increase rather than remain at their current rates due to the ever-increasing demand. While it is not known how long production can continue, it is known that eventually there will reach a point where that production cannot continue. It is evident, then, that if another solution is not found, that a major energy crisis will occur at some point in the future.
Also, there has been much concern about greenhouse gases and their effects on world climate. Many conflicting studies have taken place on the effects of our pollution, and it is beyond the scope of this writing to analyze whether, in fact, a real threat exists. However, there is certainly a very real possibility of such a threat of pollution seriously affecting our climate, and as a result, pollution is a driving force as well as oil demands in the production and development of electric vehicles. In this case, though, the demand for oil would be a much more important driving force as it is economic in nature and people tend to be much more motivated by economic factors than environmental ones — especially considering that the next oil crisis is likely to be far worse than that which took place in the 1970s if a transition to a renewable fuel source does not take place.
Because of these factors automakers have been attempting to design electric automobiles for a number of years. Electric-only vehicles suffer from the problems of lack of battery life, poor acceleration and speed, limited driving distance, and high cost compared to their better-performing gasoline counterparts. As a result, efforts to market purely electric
vehicles have largely failed. Consumers simply will not purchase a product that performs worse in nearly all measurable aspects, and pay a higher cost to do so. In our current society where oil is still plentiful, an alternative market would need to be found for an electric vehicle to do well. To this point, such a market has not been found. As a disruptive technology, an electric vehicle does not fit into any of the current markets for cars.
As an alternative to the electric vehicle, automakers have also developed the hybrid vehicle as more of a sustaining technology. With a gas-powered engine, these cars perform just as well as any other. The only downside is the additional cost. However, a combination of driving forces — the desire for environmental friendliness, and incentives for purchasing a hybrid car — can eliminate the negatives of the added cost since the cars are nearly identical to traditional gas-powered vehicles in nearly all other respects.
Government incentives have added to the efforts to promote electric and hybrid vehicles — for example, California now has very strict laws on exactly how much pollution can be emitted by cars and has incentives for automakers who sell hybrid or electric cars. Also, a sizable tax break is currently in effect for the next few years for individuals who purchase hybrid vehicles. This helps to offset the added cost of the vehicles compared to their gas-only counterparts.
It seems likely, then, that until a market is found for electric vehicles, which appear to be a disruptive technology, that we will continue to see advancement in the development of the sustaining technology, hybrid vehicles. At the very least, should hybrid vehicles become popular, they will succeed in postponing the possibility of a severe energy crisis.
Already we are seeing that this rise in popularity of hybrid cars might be taking place. The Toyota Prius, a hybrid car, has recently received Motor Trend’s 2004 “Car of the Year” award and Ford and Toyota both plan on releasing a hybrid sport-utility vehicle, or SUV, in 2005. SUVs, which tend to get very poor gas mileage, will likely turn out to be a very lucrative market for a hybrid vehicle as the savings in gasoline will have a much larger impact than it would with standard-sized cars, which are already reasonably efficient in most cases.
The ultimate goal, however, from both an environmental standpoint and an economic one, would be to achieve a completely electric vehicle. Despite the failure to this point in finding a viable market for electric vehicles, major automakers continue to release prototypes for models which are gradually improving from year to year. A Canadian company, Hydro-Québec, has recently announced plans for a new, improved electric vehicle which is based on an improved lithium metal polymer battery. It expects to produce 10,000 in 2006 and will mainly target commercial customers but also expects the car to be very attractive toward individuals living in large, congested cities.
Hydro-Quebec in electric car joint venture. Reuters; March 4, 2003.http://wardsauto.com/ar/transportation_update_hydroquebec_electric/
An electric vehicle, then, will perhaps only see sales in small, niche markets in the near future. However, the availability of hybrid vehicles should see major advances within the next five to ten years. The key driving forces will be the price of oil and the price of the new cars, since both will most directly affect what consumers will purchase. Given that most of the world’s oil is produced in the Middle East, which is an extremely politically unstable region, it will be beneficial to all to reduce our dependence on it. With the improvements in the sustaining technology of hybrid vehicles, as well as the continuing search for a market for the disruptive technology of electric vehicles, a solution to the possible oil crisis of the future should be found.

Hurricane Mitch

Thunderstorm clusters had been developing as shown by satellite images on the morning of October 20, 1998. 36 hours later the clusters had become more organized and developed into a tropical depression. By the end of the day it had become a Tropical Storm and was named Mitch. Mitch was destined to become one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on the Western Hemisphere hitting Central America. Many conditions and effects made Hurricane Mitch the most outstanding natural disaster of the 20th century.
There were many conditions that enabled hurricane Mitch to become one of the most dangerous storms. The unlimited supply of water vapor happened to be one of them. Mitch had used the vapor as fuel, strengthening its performance by the warm water that quickly evaporated. There was also a pre-existing surface disturbance that lifted the warm moistened air. In 34 hours, Mitch’s central pressure dropped 1.77 inches becoming the “fourth lowest central pressure ever recorded” and increased to a “category 5” storm. These had been only some of the conditions that helped the storm mature so quickly.

These conditions left some short and long term effects on Nicaragua and Honduras. First of all Hurricane Mitch had left Nicaragua faced with a total damage worth of $1.36 billion. The country was barely on its feet as it was. Banana plantation owners had nowhere but roof tops to go to. They stood there for 2 weeks waiting for the water to drain away. Since 60 percent of the area made money off agriculture, jobs had been put into jeopardy because of the ruined fields and food.
In conclusion, Hurricane Mitch not only killed over 9,000 people but set a new record in the books for a category 5 storm. All doors had been opened and let Mitch pass through as it went off on its “deadly rampage.” As estimated by Honduras, “Mitch wiped out 50 years of progress in four days.” Mitch had destroyed the way of life for the people in Honduras, Nicaragua and other areas that may have been affected and left them in the hands of God.

संविधानसभाको पक्षमै नभएका प्रधानमन्त्री

एक पटक विचार गर्नुहोस् त पौडिन नजान्ने मान्छेलाई करौडौको हिरा नदि पारी लगिदे भनेर दियो भने के हुन्छ ? मान्छे डुब्छ, हिरा हराउँछ, उद्देष्य प्राप्ती हुदैन । त्यस्तै भयो हामीसँग । हामी पीर गरेर बसिरहेका छौं किन बनेन हाम्रो संविधान भनेर । हामी नेपालीको साझा सपना हो संविधान । यसका लागि भनेर धेरै नेपालीको रगत र पसिना बगेको छ । तर यो समयमा नबन्ने नै भयो । किन थाहा छ ? हामीले पौडिन नजान्ने मान्छेलाई हिरा दिएर नदि पारी लगि’दे भनेछौं ।
माओवादीको सरकार ढल्ने बित्तिकै देशमा संविधान बनाउँछु भनेर प्रधानमन्त्रि भएका माधवकुमार नेपालले संविधान जारी गरिसक्नु पर्ने समय ६ दिन मात्र बाँकी रहदा भने, ‘

म त संविधानसभाको पक्षमा भएको मान्छे नै होइन । खाली माओवादीलाई खुसी पार्न मञ्जुर भएको हुँ । मलाई त संविधान अर्कै तरिकाबाट बनाउँन मन थियो ।’ अब भन्नुहोस् न, संविधान नबन्नु के आश्चर्य भयो ?
मेरो छाला गैडाको जस्तो भयो त भन्थे माकुनेजी । अब त हो भन्ने पक्का भयो । उनी पुरै गैडा भइसकेछन् । हामी पो कति मुर्ख यस्ताले संविधान बनाउँछन् भनेर मख्ख परेर बस्यौ । तर हामीले जति विरोध गरे पनि केहि हुदैन । भारत दाहिना हुञ्जेल माधवकुमारका राम्रा दिन आइरहन्छन् । बिचरा ! माओबादीको पो माया लाग्न थाल्यो । माधवकुमारको सरकारले संविधान बनाउँदैनन् भनेर जनतालाई बुझाउँन के मात्र गरेनन् । यो गर्नुको साटो माधवकुमारलाई नै भन्न भनेका भए अस्ति भनिदिने रहेछन् ।

Hurricane Mitch

Natural Disasters usually come with little warning; leaving many unprepared and stunned in their path. Such an occurrence started on the morning of October 20, 1998 when satellites revealed an unorganized cluster of thunderstorms caused by a weak tropical wave developing over the southern Caribbean and northern Venezuela. 36 Hours later, tropical storm Mitch was about to evolve into one of the strongest hurricanes of the 20th century.


According to the text, Hurricane Mitch was able to occur for two main reasons. First was the overwhelming supply of water vapor, due to a very warm ocean surface. This water vapor is considered a high octane fuel for hurricanes enabling them to grow. The second reason was an existing disturbance on the ocean surface that allowed the hurricane to receive more energy by harnessing the power of the sun. By using these resources, and naturally occurring prevailing winds, Mitch was able to gain power.

Hurricane Mitch’s path was one of terror. At the beginning it meandered along the coast of Honduras in a westerly direction while it and its feeder thunderstorms dumped torrential rains on the towns and villages. Some reported wave heights of 40 to 50 feet tall. Unexpectedly Mitch then turned on to shore where it drifted through the mountains of Nicaragua and Honduras, dumping as much as 50″to 75″ of rain. According to the chart, after an astonishing 33 hours as a category five, Hurricane Mitch finally abated.
The economic impact on Honduras and Nicaragua was insurmountable. Their fragile economies were swept away, which eliminated jobs in agriculture. Agriculture represents 60% of the Gross Domestic Product. Mitch destroyed the banana crop but because coffee is grown high on the hills it was relatively unharmed. Because of the vast amount of water mudslides occurred on the loose soil, destroying trees that would leave the job market devastated. The preliminary cost of the storm was initially set at a staggering $1.36 billion or 60% of the G.D.P.
Compared to other Hurricanes, Mitch is in the top of its class. It is the second deadliest hurricane, with a death toll of 9,000. It is topped only by “The Great Hurricane” of 1780 with a death toll of 22,000. Its wind speed was sustained at 180 Mph for 15 straight hours. Hurricane Mitch’s pressure was a low 26.73.” Mitch also claims the title for the longest duration of a Category five hurricane.
Hurricane Mitch is considered the worst natural disaster in the history of Honduras and Nicaragua. It left an economy devastated and lives at a standstill. Hurricane Mitch is said to have “wiped out 50 years of progress in four days.” Its scars will be visible for many years to come.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall near New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 29, 2005, was the most destructive and costliest tropical cyclone to hit the United States.
Hurricanes are tropical cyclones which are huge rotating storms which can cause huge amounts of damage. Hurricanes can reach up to 210 mph with heavy rain and stormy seas. The hurricane begins with a area of heated air over the warm seas in the Tropics. The heated air expands and rises, creating an area of low pressure. The surrounding air moves in towards the low pressure and is made to spin by the earth’s rotation.

Areas affected by Hurricane Katrina were Bahamas, South Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida Panhandle and most of eastern North America. The US estimates the death toll to be in the thousands and the damage cost is higher than $200 billion.
The mayor in New Orleans, Ray Nagin ordered an evacuation before the hurricane struck on August 28th, He repeated the order on August 31st.
The storm started east of the Bahamas, it moved over it and made its way to Miami, south of Florida. It strengthened and turned into a hurricane just before reaching the Florida coast. Hurricane Katrina passed leaving 100,000 people without power. It strengthened further with wind speeds of 100-145mph and curved its way inland, towards Louisiana. When the hurricane reached New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina was at its fullest, at nearly 165mph! It destroyed and flooded most of New Orleans and parts of Mississippi and Alabama. The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm when it reached the middle of Mississippi and Alabama.
Over 150,000 people could not evacuate because many of the New Orleans’ school busses. In addition to residents, tourists were stranded on high pieces of land. Fuel and cars were in short supply and the Greyhound bus and Amtrak train were stopped
well before the hurricane struck.
On August 28th, many refugees that could not leave the city went to the Louisiana Superdome. It housed nearly 10,000 people including National Guard troops. The Louisiana National Guard delivered three truckloads of water and seven truckloads of food, enough to supply 15,000 people for three days. When Katrina passed, it tore two massive holes in the Superdome roof. On September the 1st, it is reported that over 60,000 people had gathered at the Superdome even with the harsh circumstances. On August 31st, it was announced that evacuees were to be moved to the Astrodome in Texas.
There were countless reports of looting and violence when many people were evacuating. There was even shootings on emergency helicopters halting rescues.
On September the 2nd in New Orleans, there were huge blasts that rocked the city. These apparently were from a chemical plant new the French Quarter that had been on fire. Large fires also broke out in other districts.
Much of New Orleans is below sea level, which meant it only took 24 hours for 80% of New Orleans to be flooded when part of the levees were destroyed. Army helicopters dropped massive sandbags in the water to close the gap so that no more water could be flooded in. Trucks filled with big rocks also helped to fill the gap. They then put a sheet steel barrier using a crane beside the rocks/sandbags to stop the water completely. They finally used a giant pump to pump the water out of flooded areas to the river/lake. Experts said that it would take around 80 days before they could drain all the water out of New Orleans.