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ALTERNATIVES

Bookshelf: Lean Logic – A Dictionary For The Future

A masterpiece and a dictionary unlike any other, every entry in Lean Logic presents David Fleming’s deft, original analysis of how our present market-based economy is destroying the very foundations—ecological, economic, and cultural—on which it depends, and his core focus: a compelling, grounded vision for a cohesive society that might weather the consequences. David Fleming,

Economy

Demonetisation is a permanent transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich

Shankar Gopalakrishnan writes: Demonetisation’s biggest impact will be on the distribution of resources within the economy, whatever happens to the economy as a whole. Demonetisation’s a giant vacuum, sucking up the resources of the weak and delivering them to the powerful, while acting like it’s doing the opposite. More importantly, this transfer will be permanent.

Bookshelf

Is data the ‘fourth paradigm’ of science?

In scientific discovery, the first three paradigms were experimental, theoretical and (more recently) computational science. This new book of essays inspired by the Microsoft researcher Jim Gray argues that a fourth paradigm of scientific discovery is at hand: the analysis of massive data sets. Read John Markoff’s review of the book in The New York Times.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #120

Common Dreams reports: Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe. The recently released Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean.

ALTERNATIVES

Bookshelf: Tending Our Land – A New Story

In ‘Tending Our Land’, authors M.G. Jackson and Nyla Coelho present a vivid, historical account of the great human enterprise of food production, an entirely new story– one that reinstates an ancient but eminently relevant imperative for our times. It makes essential reading for policy makers, academia and the budding bold generation of land tenders.

ECOCIDE/EXTINCTION

The Anthropocene myth: Blaming all of humanity for climate change lets capitalism off the hook

Andreas Malm writes: Mainstream climate discourse is positively drenched in references to humanity as such, human nature, the human enterprise, humankind as one big villain driving the train. Enter Naomi Klein, who in ‘This Changes Everything’ lays bare the myriad ways in which capital accumulation pour fuel on the fire now consuming the earth system.

ALTERNATIVES

Ashish Kothari: The search for radical alternatives – key elements and principles

Can there be a collective search for paradigms and pathways towards a world that is sustainable, equitable and just? How can such frameworks and visions build on an existing heritage of ideas and worldviews and cultures, and on past or new grassroots practice? This note attempts to layout a few thoughts towards such a process.

ENERGY

Nuclear power is not “green energy”: It is a fount of atomic waste

Former nuclear reactor operator Arnie Gundersen writes: Building nuclear reactors in a trade-off for CO2 reduction creates a toxic legacy of atomic waste. Nuclear power’s proponents claim that we’re smart enough to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but are too ignorant to figure out how to store solar electricity overnight.

Economy

Heart of rural India has suffered a stroke: P. Sainath on the note ban

Acclaimed journalist P. Sainath reports from rural Maharashtra: The “Modi masterstroke”, a term contrived by assorted anchors and other clowns on television to hail an unbelievably stupid action, is spreading agony and misery in its wake across the countryside. If there’s been any stroke, it’s the one the heart of the rural economy has suffered.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #119

Scroll.in reports: As demonetisation enters its second week, traders in Patna’s Maroofganj mandi are seeing something unprecedented. In the last seven days, the supply of new stocks in this market has plummeted. The supply of cooking oil, for instance, is down by 80%. In the same period, orders from shopkeepers have fallen steeply as well.

ECOCIDE/EXTINCTION

Paul Ehrlich: Radical overhaul needed to halt earth’s sixth great extinction

Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction— driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Others, such as the Swedish economist Bjørn Lomborg, have characterised such claims as ill-informed. We argue that the jury is in and the debate is over: Earth’s sixth great extinction has arrived.

Bookshelf

Nandini Sundar: Militarization of the imagination

In her new book, The Burning Forest: India’s War In Bastar, anthropologist Nandini Sundar provides a harrowing narrative of the toll this ongoing conflict has taken on the lives of Bastar’s Adivasis. Sundar demonstrates how the institutions of democracy have failed to address the human tragedy in what has become one of India’s most militarized regions.

ALTERNATIVES

The bright spots: Global examples of a thriving social-ecological future

There is indeed no lack of stories that document climate change, biodiversity loss, inequality and other examples of unsustainable development around the world. Efforts to envision what better futures could actually look like seldom receive the same attention. But now researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre have gathered hundreds of examples of such positive initiatives.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Trump or no, climate change action will take a beating from long-term economic forces anyway

Nagraj Adve writes: In any economy primed to continuously expand, technological improvements alone can only help so much. While being stunned by Trump’s victory, let’s neither underestimate  nor render invisible the inherent, long-term economic tendencies that prevent greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide from declining as the science demands they should. In fact, they may well rise again.

ALTERNATIVES

Pablo Tittonell: Feeding the world with Agroecology

Pablo Tittonell is professor ‘Farming Systems Ecology’ at Wageningen University and one of the worlds most well known experts in the field of agriculture and ecology. In this TED Talk, he advocates intensification of agriculture by making optimal use of natural processes and the landscape to meet the worlds constantly growing demand for food.

Bookshelf

The end of nature: Why India is becoming a drier, hotter and angrier country

Samar Halarnkar writes: In Nature in the City, her evocative exploration of Bangalore’s natural history, Harini Nagendra, says, “… residents engaged in practices such as placing a plate of warm rice (often with ghee added) outside to feed crows, leaving water baths for birds in the summer, and sugar and milk for ants and reptiles.”

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #118

Michael T. Klare writes: Whoever enters the Oval Office, it may be time for the rest of us to take up those antinuclear signs long left to molder, and put political pressure on leaders globally to avoid strategies and weapons that would make life on this planet so much more precarious than it already is.

ALTERNATIVES

Cuba’s sustainable agriculture is now at risk, thanks to Uncle Sam

Miguel Altieri writes: Cuba, which took to agroecology out of necessity when the U.S.S.R. collapsed, has become a leading example of ecological agriculture. If it does not deal carefully with U.S. agribusinesses, Cuba could revert to an industrial approach that relies on mechanization, transgenic crops and agrochemicals, rolling back the revolutionary gains of its campesinos.

Economy

David Korten: From serving money to serving life: A sacred story for our time

When we get our story wrong, we get our future wrong. Much like the Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade deal”, everything we’re told about capitalism and our economy is a pack of lies. Time for a new story, says preeminent scholar and critic of corporate globalization, David Korten, the best-selling author of ‘When Corporations Rule the World’.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Flashback: On global warming

On the eve of the American presidential election, where the two leading candidates offer little hope for climate action, it’s worth revisiting this hard-hitting 2006 article by Chad Harbach, who warned, “(Other countries) will do nothing until the United States demonstrates that a grand-scale transition to renewable energy can be achieved by big industrial countries.”

Education/Awareness

Watch: How the return of wolves rejuvenated an entire ecosystem

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable occurrence of a “trophic cascade”  – a single change in a food chain that transforms an entire ecosystem. How exactly did the wolves change the river? Author and environmentalist George Monbiot explains in this video.

Development & Growth

Charles Eisenstein: Development in the Ecological Age

Development is more than an ideology; it is an ideology in service to an economic necessity which, in turn, is not a real necessity but contingent on a growth dependent debt-based financial system. Until that system changes, the pressure to develop— to convert natural resources into commodities and social relationships into services— will not abate.

Displacement & Conflict

Connecting the dots between the environment, conservation and adivasi politics

Shashank Kela, author of an acclaimed study of adivasi history and politics, writes: This essay aims to make connections between things that are usually studied separately– environmental history, political economy, conservation practice and adivasi politics. The belief that this potential convergence could do with wider discussion is my sole justification for putting it up here.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The hidden casteism of climate change reporting in India

Pranav Prakash quotes a journalist from The Hindu: “What passes for environmental journalism in India is often bourgeoisie environmentalism, unfortunately. Air pollution in cities matter, while 300 million Indians who cook in crammed, dark, smoke-filled kitchens don’t matter. Ultimately, it’s a question of representation. Whose concerns are addressed or aired depends on who is speaking.”

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #117

The Economic Times reports:  The International Energy Agency has said it was significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables, thanks to strong policy support in key countries like United States, China, India and sharp cost reductions. Renewables have surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world.

ALTERNATIVES

Charles Eisenstein: Fear of a living planet

Does the concept of a living planet inspire and uplift you, or is it a disturbing example of woo-woo nonsense that distracts us from practical, science-based policies? While no amount of evidence can prove it false, we must acknowledge that the science that militates against an intelligent, purposeful, living universe is ideologically freighted and culturally-bound.