Debutant director Aparnaa Singh’s Irada is said to have been inspired by real events –the pollution of groundwater by a chemical manufacturer with the blessings of a state’s ruling party. Set in Punjab, Irada advocates solutions that viewers will be hard-pressed to replicate, but its concerns are timely, character sketches memorable, and its empathy unmistakable.
The worldview that informs contemporary global culture was conceived during the European ‘Enlightenment’ of the 17th century. Its shortcomings have become increasingly evident today, and they are beginning to be seen as the root cause of the many seemingly intractable global problems that confront us today. This essay presents an overview of an alternative worldview.
In Kaziranga national park, rangers shoot people to protect rhinos. The park features in a new BBC investigation, which highlights some of the conflicts that characterise contemporary conservation, as the need to protect endangered species comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened national parks.
The Great Acceleration marks the phenomenal growth of the global socio-economic system, the human part of the Earth System. It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In little over two generations –or a single lifetime –humanity (or until very recently a small fraction of it) has become a planetary-scale geological force.
The New York Times reports: India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is surpassing China’s as the world’s deadliest, a new study shows. India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50 percent in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, it says.
Ariana López Peña writes: Costa Rica was the most environmentally advanced and happiest place on earth last year, followed by Mexico, Colombia and Vanuatu, according to the Happy Planet Index, which measures life expectancy, well-being, environmental footprint and inequality to calculate nations’ success– all areas where Costa Rica’s government has made significant effort and investment.
Nikita Sattiraju writes: Farmer suicides in India have largely been attributed to debt, drought, crop failure or poor returns. However, farmers have been taking the drastic step regardless of a good rainfall year or bad, a good price year or a disappointing one. Why? Questions arise on the exact nature and reasons behind the deepening problem.
Modernity’s dominant narrative of material progress– which represents an industrial model of development–gives priority to economic growth and a rising standard of living. It is being increasingly challenged by the alternative narrative of sustainability, which seeks to balance social, environmental and economic priorities and goals to achieve a high, equitable and lasting quality of life.
Cartoon by Sandeep Adhwaryu
India Water Portal reports: The year 2016 was an abysmal year in terms of environmental policy and conservation in India. There were also many initiatives worth talking about. Any initiative, however, is only as good as those managing it. Here we talk about four people in the country who made news for their water-related actions.
There’s a fundamental difference between the ecology movement and social movements of the past. The demands of social movements could be fulfilled to a large extent, thanks to the growing cake. But with the emergence of the ecology movement, the situation has changed completely. Now, not only must the cake not grow, it must shrink.
Kirankumar Vissa writes; Everyone in the media has been talking about the slew of pro-farmer measures included in Budget 2017, how it is a Budget for the ‘have nots’ and one that will give a big fillip to agriculture. It is time to call this Budget what it is–a big prank on India’s farming community.
Disclose TV reports: Unimaginable disaster: Japan declares crisis due to unprecedented events at the Fukushima nuclear reactor. Officials have said that the damages at the reactor are “far worse than previously thought”. They have now found that melted fuel has contaminated underground water and melted core appears to have spread out over an “extensive area”.
Cycle enthusiasts from across the city of Hyderabad gathered on January 29, 2017, to celebrate the bicentenary of the invention of the bicycle. The event was organised by Ecologise and included a film screening and a talk by T. Vijayendra, a founding member of Ecologise Hyderabad, on the relevance of the bicentennial year of bicycle.
A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols and slogans trump facts and nuance. One in six Americans now believes that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonald’s can remain a democracy.
The planet is getting hotter, leaving people hungry and fuelling wars around the world and you want to do something about it. But with a green movement to cater for every age, location, and type of plastic recycling, how to turn your enthusiasm into action? Maeve Shearlaw’s tips for getting started as a climate activist.
The New Yorker reports: Survivalism, the practice of preparing for the collapse of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: eg. the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.
Enlightenment thinking is coming to an end… But our civilization still operates as if reality is about organising inert, dead matter in efficient ways. It is impossible to achieve sustainability with our prevailing ‘operating system’ for economics, politics, and culture if the underlying ‘bios’—our unconscious assumption about reality—remains tied to an ideology of dead matter.
Catch News reports: Siddharth Chakravarty worked for a decade in the merchant navy. It was a lucrative job, but one day, he realised it was not for him. He walked out of the merchant navy in 2011. The reason? Because the merchant navy’s goal was to maximise profits, and let the marine ecosytem be damned.
Every five years, the Central Electricity Authority prepares a National Electricity Plan. Last December, the CEA released draft of third NEP for 2017-2022 seeking comments from various stakeholders. Some of its conclusions, like ‘close to zero energy demand deficit’, may sound like music to power starved India but also raises serious questions about its authenticity.
Yale Environment 360 reports: Last year marked the first time in several million years that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 passed 400 parts per million. Frighteningly, this modern rise of CO2 is also accelerating at an unusual rate. By looking at the Earth’s climate history, scientists are getting a sobering picture of where we are headed.
Ritwick Dutta, noted environment lawyer and founder of the highly accomplished Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), received the Bhagirath Prayas Samman, an award that recognises efforts towards protection and conservation of rivers. Manu Moudgil caught up with him on his journey so far and how we can further expand the constituency of environment.
Common Dreams reports: The symbolic Doomsday Clock inched closer to midnight on Thursda.. For the first time in the 70-year history of the clock, “the BAS board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States,” according to a press statement.
Manipadma Jena reports: An ActionAid report released last month warns of the devastating and increasing impact of climate change on women in South Asia, stating how “Young females from neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh who migrate to India as well as internal migrants from rural areas moving to cities are increasingly vulnerable to abuse and trafficking.”
Nafeez Ahmed writes: A new research study by HSBC on global oil supply shows that the bulk of the world’s oil production has peaked and is now in decline. Welcome to a new age of permanent economic recession driven by our ongoing dependence on dirty, expensive, difficult oil — unless we choose a fundamentally different path.
Daripalli Ramaiah, recently awarded the Padmashri, India’s third highest civilian honour, has dedicated his life to increasing the country’s green cover and in the process has been credited with planting one crore saplings. The fight of Ramaiah to plant trees was not alone, as his wife Janamma has also made significant contribution to tree planting.
Western liberal democracies dominate the top rankings of progress indices. But are they the best models of development when their standard of living is unsustainable and their quality of life is, arguably, declining? Only when environmental impacts are given significant weight, as in the Happy Planet and Sustainable Society indexes, does this ranking change substantially.
Live Mint reports: Agriculture is likely to be the worst affected by the note ban, because 1) The policy coincided with harvest of kharif crops, and farmers are facing difficulty selling it. 2) Lack of cash must have posed difficulty in sowing of rabi crops. 3) Unlike other sectors, farm output is perishable in nature.
Bill Laurance writes: An unprecedented spate of road building is happening now, with around 25 million kilometres of new paved roads expected by 2050. An ambitious new study that mapped all roads globally has found that roads have split the Earth’s land surface into 600,000 fragments, most of them too tiny to support significant wildlife.
Business Standard reports: The NDA government changed regulations meant for protection of tribal rights and forests in order to ensure that more than 130 mines do not face fresh auctions and are instead retained by existing miners. Documents show regulations were changed in a coordinated manner by the environment, tribal affairs and the mines ministries.
From The New York Times: …It is impossible to imagine a world without global connections: They have always existed, and no place has escaped their formative influence. But this does not mean that there is any inherent merit in interconnectedness, which has always been accompanied by violence, deepening inequalities and the large-scale destruction of communities.
Common Dreams reports: For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year ever recorded. In 2016, a total of 22 nations set all-time records for their hottest ever temperatures. This breaks the record of eighteen all-time heat records in 2010 for the greatest number of such records set in one year.
G. Seetharaman reports: Activists say one of the biggest hurdles for FRA is that even states like Maharashtra, among the better performers, and Odisha are introducing policies which will help the forest department retain control of forest resources through joint forest management committees or similar bodies, which will dilute the powers of the gram sabha.
The final stages of capitalism, Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. These assaults would destroy the host. This final stage of capitalism is what Trump represents.
Jemima Rohekar writes: So secluded is Silent Valley that there is no written record of any human habitation in its core area. It is also the site of the first and most bitterly fought ‘environment vs development’ debate in India. Silent Valley reinforces the fact that forests and their resident biodiversity are our greatest wealth.
Gail Tverberg writes: Underlying problems are sufficiently severe that we seem to be headed for a crisis far worse than 2008. Our fundamental problem is that neither high nor low energy prices are now able to keep the world economy operating as we’d like it to. Increased debt can’t seem to fix the problem either.
T. Hanumantha Rao, irrigation engineering expert and the brain behind a participative method of water management based on his ‘Four Waters’ concept, passed away on Sunday. The Four Waters concept, explained in this video, brought rich benefits to Rajasthan, where even drought-affected areas improved over the years. Several other states are actively pursuing his recommendations.
Common Dreams reports: Global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, according to the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center. In the Arctic, the loss is due to climate change and extreme weather events likely influenced by global warming, while the changes in the Antarctic may be attributed to natural variability.