From Down to Earth: The Aral Sea has shrunk to a fourth of its size. Neha Mungekar travels to Uzbekistan and recounts how it remains a living sample of a monumental human-made ecological catastrophe. Although the Aral Sea disaste was realised in the 1990s, the true extent of its consequences are becoming evident only today.
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.
What is permafrost? What happens when permafrost thaws? This animation, based on research by scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, answers these questions. Understanding this problem, and its connection to global climate change, is of vital importance at a time when the thawing Arctic tundra is creating massive craters and bringing back diseases like anthrax.
Even when we question the personal impacts of modern technology, how many of us consider how our dependence on technology might be harming us? Or question the belief that technological advances will save us from our most pressing environmental and societal challenges? Richard Heinberg tackles this thorny issue in this brilliant essay and animation feature.
It is not often that an article about climate change becomes the most hotly debated item on the internet. But David Wallace-Wells’ lengthy essay published in New York Magazine did exactly that. The full text of the essay –admittedly a worst-case scenario- which has kicked up a firestorm of debate online, along with selected responses.
From The Independent: Scientists warn in a new study that Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction that’s “more severe than perceived.” Not only that, human activity —including pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, poaching, warming oceans and extreme weather events tied to climate change— is to blame for this massive loss in biodiversity, according to the analysis.
Will Falk writes: I’m an environmental activist. I have depression. To be an activist with depression places me squarely in an irreconcilable dilemma: The destruction of the natural world creates stress which exacerbates depression. However, acting to stop the destruction of the natural world exposes me to a lot of stress which, again, exacerbates depression.
As global capitalist economic growth accelerates planetary ecological collapse, Richard Smith argues that – impossible as it may seem at present – only the most radical solution -the overthrow of global capitalism, the construction of a mostly publicly-owned and mostly planned eco-socialist economy is the only alternative to the collapse of civilization and ecological suicide.
From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism almost everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.
From The Guardian: The chief reason that we’re waking up to our entanglement with the world we’ve been destroying, Timothy Morton says, is our encounter with the reality of hyperobjects –the term he coined to describe things such as ecosystems and black holes, which are “massively distributed in time and space” compared to individual humans.
From Yale Environment 360: Borneo is ground zero for oil palm devastation. The most ancient and species-rich forest on earth, it has also had highest deforestation rate on the planet, and in recorded history. Consumers of the countless products made with palm oil, from toothpaste to chocolate bars, now hold the key to protecting it.
From The New York Times: At 82, the anthropologist T. N. Pandit passes his days in the gentle occupations of old age: poetry, a Buddhist study circle, a daily walk in the park. It is rare for anyone to ask him about the years he spent with the hunter gatherer tribes of the Andaman Islands.
Kenn Orphan writes: Earth Day has morphed into an opportunity for corporations and politicians to tout empty gestures at “saving the planet” while they mercilessly plunder it. It neutralises public outrage at the world’s dire state and spreads an all-pervasive “feel goodism” to a situation that’s truly existential, for countless other species, and our own.
“What you see in a lot of countries is a predatory capitalism, from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Australia, which show the corporations that are involved in the neo-liberal agenda, an agenda that has been implemented without really any public consent. This is happening, I would argue, almost by stealth,” says author and journalist Anthony Lowenstein.
From Kosmos Journal: What if we told you that humanity is being driven to the brink of extinction by an illness? That all the poverty, the climate devastation, the perpetual war, and consumption fetishism all around us have roots in a mass psychological infection? What if this infection is not just highly communicable but also self-replicating?
From Friends of the Earth: The 2015 Indonesian forest fires, started by farmers and palm-oil companies to clear land for plantation, lasted for months and caused massive air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, at one point releasing more carbon dioxide than the entire U.S. economy, and causing an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region.
John Bellamy Foster writes in the foreword: It’s capitalism and the alienated global environment it has produced that constitutes our “burning house” today. Mainstream environmentalists have generally chosen to do little more than contemplate it, while flames lick the roof and the entire structure threatens to collapse around them. The point, rather, is to change it.
Dave Lindorff writes: The concern is that if the Arctic Ocean waters were to warm even slightly, as they will do as the ice cap vanishes in summer, at some point the clathrates which have currently trapped massive amounts of methane will suddenly dissolve releasing tens of thousands of gigatons of methane in huge bursts.
Intercontinentalcry.org reports: On January 11, 2017 Ecuador’s Esmeraldas Provincial Court handed down its decision on the world’s first constitutionally-based Rights of Nature lawsuit. Amazingly, this historic demand for justice—which simultaneously begs for a shift in merely human rights-based paradigms—was made by people who literally and figuratively live in Ecuador’s margins: The Canton of San Lorenzo.
We are coming into an era of huge uncertainty–climate change is a reality, resources are becoming more scarce and I this will eventually lead to armed conflict. While my partner and I are in the extremely fortunate position, I feel that it would be unfair of me to bring a child into a precarious future.