From Scroll.in: How does the government define a smart city under its much-publicised Smart City Mission? This may never be known. An exercise to set clear benchmarks to assess when exactly a city is delivering a high enough quality of life to be declared a smart city was shut down by the urban development ministry.
From The Guardian: Cities are expanding at a pace and scale far greater than at any time in history. The global urbanisation boom is devouring colossal amounts of sand–the key ingredient of concrete and asphalt. In the past few years, China alone has used more cement than the US used in the entire 20th century.
From Guardian/Al Jazeera: Proposals for one of the world’s largest mines in Queensland threaten not only the Great Barrier Reef, but also global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Australia’s government is changing legislation protecting land rights for Aboriginal people in order to get Adani’s Carmichael mine, one of the world’s largest, project over the line.
New scientific research is quietly rewriting the fundamentals of economics, showing decisively that the age of endlessly growing industrial capitalism, premised on abundant fossil fuel supplies, is over. The long-decline of capitalism-as-we-know-it, the new science conclusively shows, began some decades ago, and is on track to accelerate well before the end of the 21st century.
Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.
The Atlas for the End of the World chronicles the archipelago of protected areas into which the world’s genetic biodiversity is now huddled. It is not about the end of the world per se; but the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation and its concomitant myths of progress.
Richard Heinberg writes: Over the past century-and-a-half, fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is only a symptom.
From Slate.com: Industrial civilisation’s impact is so massive that it goes way beyond climate change. Earth scientists now suggest that it is creating a distinct geological layer made of ‘technofossils’. The scale of our stuff is so gargantuan, that it is throwing off the quite robust balance of our natural systems—that’s how powerful it is.
From The Conversation: If the global economy grows by 3% till 2100, it will be 60 times larger than now. The existing economy is already environmentally unsustainable, so we simply cannot“decouple” growth from environmental impact. This paper looks at policies that could facilitate a planned transition beyond growth–while considering the huge obstacles along the way.
Colin Todhunter writes: At a time when India commemorates the end of British rule, it finds itself under siege from international capital. Its not only on course to become an even weaker and more hobbled state permanently beholden to US state-corporate interests, but it is heading towards environmental catastrophe much faster than many may think.
From BBC: A recent episode of Newsnight, BBC’s programme on ideas, had a surprising guest: Anthropologist Jason Hickel, who went on to make a case against the lethal addiction to economic growth and in its place proposed “planned de-growth”. Hickel is the author of The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions.
Frontline reports: Across the country, large tracts of land are being earmarked for exclusive solar power parks. The rocky terrain of Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district has emerged as the largest solar power-generating hub in India, but the nomadic communities that have lived there for generations find themselves dispossessed of land and reduced to abject poverty.
From Patna Daily: A nuclear power plant can be imported lock stock and barrel and all local people need to do is watch the plant and the fence around it get erected, charge their mobile phones to watch videos all day, stay out of trouble. They have no work in the creation of the asset.
India’s former energy secretary E.A.S. Sharma writes in The Wire: Everyone knows that the NPA problem is due to the lack of due diligence on the part of banks. If banks were to refuse new loans to some of these indebted companies, nearly 40% of the coal blocks assigned to them would not get developed.
Joe Brewer writes: There is a reason only 5 men have the same aggregate wealth as half the human population. And that the Earth’s climate is ramping up for a phase transition that threatens our entire civilization. It’s because the 500 year old Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction is designed to produce exactly these outcomes.
From Vikalp Sangam: NITI Aayog has invited suggestion and feedback on its Draft National Energy Policy. Here’s the detailed response sent by a group of civil society groups. Also linked here is energy expert Bhamy Shenoy’s critique of the draft Policy, which he says does not reflect the crucial recent transformations in the energy sector.
From Scroll.in: While the UPA government had been steadily weakening safeguards for India’s environment, forests and wildlife, the present NDA government is carrying forward this agenda in an even more aggressive and systematic manner. A new book by Prerna Singh Bindra details how ‘ease of doing business’ has become an excuse to ignore wildlife protection.
From The Wire: As the Gujarat government rushes to close the Sardar Sarovar dam gates ahead of elections, 40,000 residents of the Narmada valley are facing a nightmare of submergence. It’s this injustice and violence, and the development paradigm debate –development for whom and at what cost– that makes Narmada a litmus test for India.
From Hakai Magazine: For almost 15 years, Harold and Gephard have removed five dams from Connecticut waterways. They spend most of their time meeting owners whose ties to their dams can go back centuries. “It’s about trying to get dam owners to do something that they can’t quite decide. You have to basically say, ‘trust me.’”
From Mining Review Africa: Environmental NGO Urgewald has revealed companies that are at the forefront to expand the world’s coal-fired power by 42.8%. The report identifies the 120 companies that are planning about 850 new coal plants in 62 countries–including Indian coal majors Adani, Tata, Lanco and Coal India, which are driving the biggest plants.