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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Steve Keen, Professor of Economics at Kingston University London, is a long time critic of conventional economic thought, and is also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. In this interview with Steven Sackur on BBC HardTalk, he tackles the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally.
Fidel Castro, the legendary Cuban revolutionary and politician who passed away on November 25th was known for his pioneering policies in health and education, but was equally committed to environmental issues. In this short talk given at the 1992 Earth Summit, Fidel described the global environmental crisis and identified its causes more powerfully than any other delegate.
As the world’s leading superpowers struggle to make the transition from fossil-based energy systems, 47 of the world’s poorest nations have pledged to skip fossil fuels altogether and jump straight to using 100 percent renewable energy instead. The ambitious goal was laid out during the final day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Morocco.
A masterpiece and a dictionary unlike any other, every entry in David Fleming’s Lean Logic presents the author’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.
From the lignite mines in Rhineland, to the streets of Paris, the struggles for climate justice are fought at more and more fronts. This film documents the story of a growing movement that says “Enough! Here and no further!” and commits civil disobedience taking the transition towards a climate just society into its own hands.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s no such thing as ‘healthy food’ if it’s not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent ‘Food: The Forgotten Medicine’ conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there’s a huge job to be done to restore depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of seeds and crops.
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.
Rajni Bakshi writes: Votaries of degrowth are the first to acknowledge that they are deploying a ‘bomb-word’. Yet it highlights an inconvenient truth–that infinite economic growth is not possible on a finite planet. Even ‘green’ growth, supported by technological wizardry cannot, by itself, address the deepening global crisis of under-employment, social dislocation, and environmental degradation.