We’re all on track to use at least 29 phones in our lifetimes. This rapid turnover of devices leads to record profits for smartphone manufacturers year after year. It also leads to many damaging impacts on people and our planet. Greenpeace USA’s new report, ‘From Smart to Senseless’, explores the high cost of smartphone use.
science & research
From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.
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.
Carrie Arnold writes: Humans have always passed down stories through the ages that helped cultures to cope when disaster inevitably struck. In the past decade, geologists have begun to pay attention to how indigenous peoples understood, and prepared for, disaster. These stories, which couched myth in metaphor, could help scientists prepare for cataclysms to come.
From The Wire: Compared to farm, fishery and factory work, Himalayan porterage is rarely the subject of labour scholarship. For that matter, the forest protection and conservation labour of Adivasis and Dalits too rarely occupies the labour scholar’s interest… The biologically and culturally diverse eastern Himalayas are an apt geography to locate this labour-conservation conundrum.
Michael Snyder writes: What in the world are we going to do with billions of human workers around the globe that are no longer needed when technology takes virtually all of our jobs? Some have suggested that society will evolve into a socialist utopia; others see a dystopian future with greater inequality than ever before.
From India Water Portal: Records show there were 1.10 lakh varieties of rice in India in 1965. After the Green Revolution, which pushed for hybrid varieties, less than 7,000 remain. Debal Deb, who has conserved 1,200 climate-resilient rice varieties, speaks on the need to conserve traditional seeds and why we don’t need genetically modified ones.
From The Daily Conversation: This video shows the top 10 countries threatened by the 6 meter sea level rise we are almost guaranteed to see in the not-too-distant future, according to the projected pace of global warming and ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica. India is No. 3 on the list, and China No. 1.
A new modeling study published in The Lancet suggests that India’s agricultural need for water can be met if Indians introduce minor diet changes. Research team leader Alan Dangour tells Down to Earth that “dietary change is a potential way to improve resilience of the Indian food system in the face of future groundwater decline.”
Carbon Brief reports: Four years of current emissions would be enough to blow what’s left of the carbon budget for a good chance of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C. That’s the conclusion of this analysis, which brings the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s carbon budgets up to date to include global emissions in 2016.
People living in villages, who are migrating in large numbers to cities, could be victims of our economic development or perhaps the dismal income growth of farm households is semi-deliberate to keep labour costs low… Are our rural brothers victims or collateral damage of economic development, of a deliberate though unstated strategy, asks Sanjiv Phansalkar.
Hari Pulakkat writes: The country’s water data has been largely hidden from public view, and what was available was poor or untrustworthy. This brings up a question rarely asked by policymakers. If scientists find it difficult to analyse the country’s water resources at the moment, how valid are the reports that forecast India’s water future?
India Climate Dialogue reports: A community-managed shoreline monitoring project in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry is tracking changes to beaches to safeguard an ecosystem that is vital for the livelihoods of fishing communities. “A Tide Turns” is a community science initiative that has helped turn more than 120 people from local fishing communities into climate scientists.
From Yale Environment 360: Ecologist Suzanne Simard, now at the University of British Columbia, has pioneered research into how trees communicate. She has shown how trees use a network of soil fungi to convey their needs and aid neighboring plants. Now she’s warning that threats like clear-cutting and climate change could disrupt these critical networks.
Florence Williams writes: Unfortunately for city dwellers, the closer we live to roads, the higher our risk of autism, stroke and cognitive decline in ageing, although the exact reasons haven’t been teased out. Scientists suspect it has something to do with fine particles causing tissue inflammation and altering gene expression in the brain’s immune cells.
CBC News reports: A new report has calculated the total mass of all manmade things-from buildings to cars and computers- to be an astounding 30 trillion tons, seven times more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. It shows the sheer magnitude of the human impact on our planet, which is still growing.
Down to Earth reports: With his executive order, which lifts the ban on coal production and lifts restrictions on production of oil, natural gas, ‘clean coal’ and shale energy, U.S. President Donald Trump has literally started the process of dismantling the Paris Climate Agreement— the landmark international pact adopted in 2015 to fight climate change.
From The Guardian: The research centres we assume to be objective, are connected with the very industry the public believes they are objectively studying. To call this conflict of interest is an understatement: many of them exist as they do only because of the fossil fuel industry. They are industry projects polished with academic credibility.
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.
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.