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Marxism, ecology and the Anthropocene: A debate

Editor’s Note: Last week, Ecologise carried the well-known Marxist scholar John Bellamy Foster’s foreword to a new book, Facing the Anthropocene. In response, noted eco-socialist writer Saral Sarkar posted a comment questioning the usefulness of Marxist analysis in understanding the global ecological crisis. This short piece, first published on Ecologise, is Foster’s reply to Sarkar.

Why our approach to World Forests Day is a threat to forests

Souparna Lahiri writes: How will forests provide for such high energy demands being put on them, especially in the name of renewables? In the Global South, there’s a rise in monoculture tree plantations for biofuels, or wood. Biofuel plantations have already caused the clearing of rainforests and threatened animals and humans that depend on them.

Gail Tverberg: Twelve reasons why globalisation is a huge problem

Globalization seems to be looked on as an unmitigated “good” by economists. Unfortunately, they miss the point that the world is finite. We don’t have infinite resources, or unlimited ability to handle excess pollution. So we’re setting up a “solution” that is at best temporary. Here’s why globalization is, in fact, a very major problem.

Information theory pioneer John Scales Avery on the planet’s converging crises

From Countercurrents.org: Human cultural evolution can be regarded as an enormous success in many respects. However, thoughtful observers agree that civilization is entering a period of crisis. As all curves move exponentially upward: population, production, consumption, etc, one can observe signs of increasing environmental stress, while the existence of nuclear weapons threaten civilization with destruction.

Bookshelf: Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System

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.

Why trapped methane in the Arctic is a problem for all

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.

The biggest refugee crisis since WWII is a sign of a planet in trouble

David Korten writes that if don’t make a collective choice to heal the planet and build a fundamentally more equitable society, we’ll see intensifying competition for shrinking resources and habitable spaces. Activist Mary Robinson explains why climate change Is a threat to human rights and asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.

How climate change battles are increasingly being fought, and won, in court

The Guardian reports: Around the world courts are stepping in when politicians fail to act, with South Africa’s government the latest to lose a groundbreaking climate lawsuit with judges ruling against its plans for a new coal-fired power station. The government’s approval of the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station was challenged by NGO EarthLife Africa.

Ben Chu: Financial markets are now betting against the future of the planet

The Paris climate agreement was hailed by Al Gore as the moment when “the community of nations finally made the decision to act”. But there’s been no readjustment of energy stock prices since then. Indeed, the flotation of a tranche of Saudi oil giant Aramco, is expected to create the most valuable company on earth.

City of burning lakes: experts fear Bangalore will be uninhabitable by 2025

Deepa Bhasthi writes in The Guardian: The illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage in Bangalore is creating a water crisis which threatens residents’ health–and is causing the city’s famous lakes to catch fire. This is the new story of the city, which some scientists believe will be “unliveable” in a few years.

William H. Kotke: Civilization falls; a new culture emerges

We must invent a whole new human culture. The human species cannot exist in perpetuity on the earth unless it lives in biological balance with the life around it. Running a net deficit drawdown of the earth’s fertility will not work. Is it not strange that children can understand this statement but world leaders cannot?

The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration

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.

The ecology movement is not a social movement: A response to John Foran

There’s a fundamental difference between the ecology movement and social movements of the past. The demands of social movements could be fulfilled to a large extent, thanks to the growing cake. But with the emergence of the ecology movement, the situation has changed completely. Now, not only must the cake not grow, it must shrink.

George Monbiot: The Golden Arches Theory of Decline

A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols and slogans trump facts and nuance. One in six Americans now believes that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonald’s can remain a democracy.

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.

The Enlivenment Manifesto: Politics and Poetics in the Anthropocene

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.

How the world passed a carbon threshold and why it matters

Yale Environment 360 reports: Last year marked the first time in several million years that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 passed 400 parts per million. Frighteningly, this modern rise of CO2 is also accelerating at an unusual rate. By looking at the Earth’s climate history, scientists are getting a sobering picture of where we are headed.

Women bear the brunt of climate-forced migration

Manipadma Jena reports: An ActionAid report released last month warns of the devastating and increasing impact of climate change on women in South Asia, stating how “Young females from neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh who migrate to India as well as internal migrants from rural areas moving to cities are increasingly vulnerable to abuse and trafficking.”

Brace for the coming oil, food and financial crash

Nafeez Ahmed writes: A new research study by HSBC on global oil supply shows that the bulk of the world’s oil production has peaked and is now in decline. Welcome to a new age of permanent economic recession driven by our ongoing dependence on dirty, expensive, difficult oil — unless we choose a fundamentally different path.

Amitav Ghosh: What nutmeg can tell us about globalisation

From The New York Times: …It is impossible to imagine a world without global connections: They have always existed, and no place has escaped their formative influence. But this does not mean that there is any inherent merit in interconnectedness, which has always been accompanied by violence, deepening inequalities and the large-scale destruction of communities.

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