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.
education & awareness
The Great Acceleration marks the phenomenal growth of the global socio-economic system, the human part of the Earth System. It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In little over two generations –or a single lifetime –humanity (or until very recently a small fraction of it) has become a planetary-scale geological force.
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.
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.
More fish species on the east coast, especially in the waters off Odisha and West Bengal, are highly vulnerable to climate change, according to a first of its kind assessment by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). That vulnerability stems not only from changes in climate but also from fishing pressure and lower productivity.
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.
Sophie Lewis writes: We often hear people saying it’s impossible to attribute any single weather event to climate change. While this may have been true in the 1990s, the science of linking extreme events to global warming has advanced significantly since then. However, how we communicate these findings has not kept pace with the science.
Set in the world of a spoofed prescription drug commercial, Nature Rx offers a hearty dose of laughs and the outdoors – two timeless prescriptions for whatever ails you. This award-winning comedy series is a friendly reminder to us Earthly inhabitants what feels good and what is worth protecting once we take an adventure outdoors.
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.
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.
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.
Live Mint reports: The richest 1% of Indians now own 58.4% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Switzerland based Credit Suisse Group AG. In the last two years, the share of the top 1% has increased at a cracking pace, from 49% in 2014 to 58.4% in 2016.
GM mustard, if approved, will open the floodgates for other such crops making India one of the largest users of GM crops in the world. Given that its agriculture is largely in the hands of MNCs, India will end up bartering its freedom for the benefit of a few and the misery of the rest.
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’.
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.
Leo Hickman writes: Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has spent the past three years asking a wide variety of people around the world about climate change. His collection of interviews in the film–ranging from Barack Obama and the Pope through to Elon Musk and Sunita Narain– cover the science, impacts, vested interests, politics and possible solutions.
Felix Padel writes: An Adivasi economy, in its traditional or pre-globalization form at least, was based in many ways on ecological principles. In the words of a Kond elder in Kandhamal district, Odisha, “Where are the saints in your society? In this village we are all saints. We consume little, share everything, and waste nothing.”
Gana Kedlaya writes: “With India trying to accelerate economic growth and relax forest laws, there is immense pressure to divert forests to non-forests uses. There is a pressing need to undertake an economic valuation of ecosystem services, especially intangible benefits, provided by Indian forests.” professor K.N. Ninan, author of a study on valuing ecosystem services.