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Some of the world’s wealthiest are preparing for the crackup of civilisation

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.

Tribute: T. Hanumantha Rao, champion of water management alternatives

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.

New study says solar panels have repaid their fossil fuel debt

Phys.org reports: The climate friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday. Indeed, by some calculations, the so-called “break-even point” between dirty energy input and clean output may already have arrived, researchers in the Netherlands reported.

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.

Mushrooms can save the world (and put Monsanto out of business)

EcoSnippets reports: According to Paul Stamets, one of the world’s leading mycologists, his patented ‘smart pesticides’ can provide a safe and nearly permanent solution for controlling over 200,000 species of insects – and all thanks to the ‘magic’ of mushrooms. In fact, pesticide industry executives have called it “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.”

Is renewable energy really environmentally friendly?

Robin Delobel writes: The issue is rarely raised, but renewable energies have a heavy environmental impact when the total production chain and overall product life-cycle is taken into account– particularly, the stage of mining the metals needed in their production. In addition, chemical products used in the mining operations often lead to severe long-term pollution.

Photo story: Draining a glacial lake in Sikkim to prevent climate disaster

Sonam Wangchuk, the real life inspiration of the character “Phunsuk Wangdu” in Bollywood hit “3 idiots”, recently led an expedition to Sikkim’s Lhonak lake, which has been declared dangerous. Their objective was to install a siphoning system to drain the lake and prevent climate disaster, probably the first project of its kind in the world.

Kevin Kelly on the 12 technological forces that will shape our future

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.

A ‘time-lapse’ view of the water wars, in Bangalore (and soon, the world)

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.

Smart cities: Too smart for their own good?

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.

India can lead the world in solving ‘problems without borders’

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.

Science and the scientist in a changing climate

Is sustainability an idea, a science, a philosophy or a way of life? The premise of this article is that sustainability is all of these and more. Furthermore, science and technology of both today and the future must be re-visioned to understand and enable sustainability, writes Radha Gopalan of the Coordination Council, Food Sovereignty Alliance, India.

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