Australian educator, author and co-inventor of Permaculture, Bruce Charles ‘Bill’ Mollison, died on the 24 September 2016. He has been praised across the world for his visionary work, and left behind a global network of ‘peaceful warriors’ in over 100 countries working tirelessly to fulfill his ambition to build harmony between humanity and Mother Earth.
Whitney Webb reports: Farmers in India’s poorest region are recording record rice yields by growing organically, debunking once and for all the myth that GMOs are necessary to feed the world’s growing population… In Bihar, Sumant Kumar and his family produced an astounding 22.4 tons of rice on only one hectare of land, in 2013.
Nityanand Jayaraman writes: The complexity of river systems, the hydrological dynamics that determine their ebb and flow, and anthropogenic confounders such as land-use change and climate change had no influence on the tribunal order… Today’s planners try to spare water for ecological flows, not realising that ecological flows are what keep the river a river.
Anandi Sharan writes: Devinder Sharma is a founder member of Kisan Ekta, that claims to represent ‘400 million farmers, fishermen and farm workers’. But does Sharma, a close associate of the controversial yoga teacher-turned businessman Baba Ramdev, understand the ground reality of the politics of food, agriculture and hunger? Whose interests does Kisan Ekta serve?
The Guardian reports: Environmental destruction and landgrabs could lead to governments and individuals being prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the international criminal court following a decision to expand its remit. The ICC said it would prioritise crimes that result in “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land.
Book excerpt: Both corporations and governments alike, who seek to consolidate their land ownership, often push for clearly defined tenurial rights rather than have to deal with messy overlapping custodianships. Many scholars have highlighted the limits of tenurial security in achieving conservation and that a tenure creates willing stakeholders in large scale land use change.
The reactor failed four times in the final commissioning test. Numerous emergency shutdowns and four maintenance outages have kept the reactor off-grid for days, and it has supplied far less electricity than it was supposed to. Yet, plans to import a dozen more reactors of the same vintage from the same vendor are in progress.
Suraj Kumar Thube writes: Much of the naturalisation of the suicides has also got to do with the urban perception of rural areas and rural lifestyles. The oriental imagination still does not cease to colonise our minds in terms of perceiving the rural as a stagnant and unchanging space characterised by divisive notions of caste-consciousness.
From TheWire.in: Ecological economist, Gandhian thinker and author Mark Lindley has some stark warnings for the future of hi-tech societies, and a few ‘prescriptions’ for India and for economists, who he says vastly underestimate the gravity of the looming environmental crises. Ecologise and Graama Seva Sangha recently organised a lecture series by Lindley in Bangalore.
Javed Iqbal reports: Months have passed quietly with allegations of day-to-day violence and repression. Throughout the summer, say locals, many adivasis were caught and humiliated by the C60 – Maharashtra’s special anti-naxal force. In interviews, they detailed how they were deliberately humiliated by being beaten on the soles of their feet and on their buttocks.
Eric Holthaus writes: The latest comic from xkcd, the internet’s most famous science-focused webcomic, zips through 22,000 years of Earth’s climate history, juxtaposed with key moments in the history of civilization. Seeing it, you’ll probably come to an inescapable conclusion: Nothing like this has ever happened, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
felixdance/Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Nehmat Kaur writes: The National Green Tribunal covered new ground for the ‘polluter pays’ principle by invoking it in two landmark judgments recently. Activists are hopeful that this will help deter corporations from functioning with impunity, under the cover of governmental apathy. The judgments in both cases acknowledged governmental inaction in dealing with environmental damage.
P. Sainath/People's Archive of Rural India
Chetan Chauhan reports: Maharashtra and Rajasthan have started community based Jal Swabhilambhan schemes that give ownership of government-aided watershed management to the communities. “We just aid and assist the villagers in creating durable water assets. The villages decide what they want,” said Sriram Vedire of Rajasthan Water Authority, who initiated the programme in early 2016.
We will soon have artificial intelligence that can accomplish professional human tasks. Our lives will be totally 100% tracked by ourselves and others. Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends already in motion, and are impossible to halt without halting civilization, says Internet pioneer Kevin Kelly.
The Washington Post reports: Wilderness areas on Earth have experienced alarming losses in the past two decades, a new study suggests. Researchers have concluded that a 10th of all the world’s wilderness has been lost in just 20 years. South America lost nearly 30 percent of its wilderness area, and Africa lost about 14 percent.
Jason Hickel writes: The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals recognise the inherent tension between economic development and the planet’s ecology. It signals awareness that something about our economic system has gone terribly awry–that we cannot continue chewing through the living planet without gravely endangering our security and prosperity, and indeed the future viability of our species.
Yesterday, with protests over the Cauvery water dispute bringing Bangalore to its knees, many of the city’s techno-optimists found themselves stranded on its burning roads, like bunnies caught in headlights. It might just be another sign that ‘life as we know it’ is about to change forever, both in India and the world, writes Vijay Kundaji.
Live Mint reports: This is not a one-off dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu— the latest flare-up puts the spotlight on the growing incidence of water wars among states and, in some instances, within regions in a state. Riparian states warring over water is not new— nearly every river in the Indian subcontinent is contested.
G. Sampath writes: The smart city paradigm signals a momentous shift that takes the agenda of privatisation beyond the takeover of public utilities, and inaugurates the formal privatisation of governance itself. An exclusive focus on technology in discussions of the smart city paradigm can blind one to its real driver—the global crisis of capital accumulation.
A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment. In this court, a nation that tries to prosecute a corrupt CEO or ban dangerous pollution can be sued for millions, even billions of dollars for ‘interfering with profits’. A investigative series from BuzzFeed.
Aurel Keller writes: The collapse of the Soviet Union, and resultant loss of imports crucial for the island nation’s industrial agriculture system left Cuba with a severe food crisis in the 1990s. Today, Cuba has become a regional leader in sustainable agriculture, and its practices and institutions a model for localized and small-scale urban agriculture.
Samuel Alexander writes: ‘Wild democracy’ is a new political orientation, sensibility, and practice. A localised politics with a global perspective, positioning itself ‘in the wild’ beyond the state and yet, at times, pragmatically engaged with it. In short, wild democracy is a revolutionary politics without a Revolution, as such–a paradox I will unpack and defend.
Katherine Ross reports: Last month’s release of India’s ambitious year-on-year solar energy capacity targets chart a roadmap for achieving the country’s 2022 goal. This sequence of yearly targets—as opposed to an assumed growth trend between current capacity and targeted capacity—shows that India is making concerted plans to reach its goals announced at the Paris talks.
The Guardian reports: The oceans have already sucked up an enormous amount of heat due to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, affecting marine species from microbes to whales, according to a report involving the work of 80 scientists from a dozen countries. The profound changes underway in the oceans are starting to impact people, it states.
Partha Sarathi Biswas reports: Kishore Tiwari, chairman of a task force constituted by the Maharashtra government, is emphatic in blaming nationalised banks for farmer suicides in the state. “They have no qualms in writing off debts owed by big corporates, but harass farmers to death even for paltry crop loans of Rs 50,000,” he alleges.
Watch video recordings of keynote presentations of the just concluded 5th International Degrowth Conference. They cover a range of subjects from critiques of economic growth and capitalism and green economy, to radical alternatives on economic, political, social and cultural fronts; alliances between global north and south; climate justice; the nature and future of work, etc.
The National Green Tribunal has virtually given the go-ahead for the proposed mega port at Vizhinjam, to be built and run by the Adani group, setting aside appeals by local fisher folk and environmentalists. Here’s a closer look at what’s at stake at Vizhinjam, and why many consider it another developmental disaster in the making.
Monetary historian Mike Maloney says in this podcast: Within the next few years you’re going to see probably the greatest crash in history. I have often said that the crisis of 2008 was just a speed bump on the way to the main event. We are in the process right now of seeing this unwind.
Bjorn Lomborg, long known as a ‘contrarian’ environmentalist, recently triggered a heated media debate when he claimed that organic farming cannot provide food security for the world, and even asserted that it is bad for the environment. Here we present Lomborg’s original column in USA Today and a selection of voices that counter his view.
Charles Eisenstein writes: Psychedelics can bestow expanded consciousness and ways of being that are incompatible with those that presently undergird our society. Psychedelics have the power to subvert the alienation, competition, anthropocentrism, standardization of commodities and social roles, and reduction of reality to a collection of things that propel the world-destroying machine of modern civilization.
Acclaimed novelist Amitav Ghosh‘s non-fiction take on climate change and our collective inability to acknowledge its danger – titled The Great Derangement – has been hailed as a landmark, which promises to change the conversation around this crucial issue. In this series, we’re re-publishing interviews which feature the writer at his forceful and articulate best.
Navi Radjou writes: My thesis is that powerful centripetal forces are gaining great momentum and are about to usher in the Age of Convergence. This epochal shift provides India a once-in-a-millennium opportunity to assume global leadership in co-creating innovative solutions to tackle socio-economic challenges that will severely afflict the whole of humanity in coming decades.
Pavitra Mohan reports: In rural India, where 833 million Indians (70%) live, people are consuming fewer nutrients than are required to stay healthy, according to a National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) survey. On an average, compared to 1975-1979, a rural Indian now consumes 550 fewer calories and 13 gm protein lesser than they used to.
Professor Immanuel Ness, author of Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class which has India, China and South Africa as case studies, spoke to The Wire on trade unions and labour laws in India, social relations between labour and capital in the global south, merits of spontaneity in workers’ agitations and much more.
The Guardian reports: Planet Earth has entered a new geological epoch dubbed the Anthropocene because of the extent of humanity’s impact on the planet, according to a group of scientists. An international working group set up to consider the question voted by 30 to three, with two abstentions, that the Anthropocene was real in a geological sense.
From EPW: The poor record of public and private sector industries across sectors to submit the mandatory environmental information reveals the shortcomings of the existing environmental regulatory process. This article attempts to evaluate the current status of firm level environmental information available with the regulators and suggests some measures to strengthen the current regulatory system.
Developed by Dr. Ashok Kundapur, this project seeks to harness energy from the ocean to generate clean electric power all round the year at over 80% of installed capacity, way better than any conventional power plant burning coal or Uranium. He is seeking funds to develop a fully functional prototype, through the Milaap crowdfunding platform.