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Illustration by Cathryn Virginia

Engineered for Dystopia

David A. Banks writes in The Baffler: Engineering has not strayed far from its military origins… Engineers are trained to “plug into chain-of-command decision making structures… In times like these it is important to remember that border walls, nuclear missiles, and surveillance systems do not work, and won’t even exist, without the cooperation of engineers.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #194

HIGHLIGHTS: *Arunachal, Assam and Sikkim battle deluge *SC order a fresh lease of life for Aravallis *First pre-event study finds climate change fingerprints all over Hurricane Florence *‘Direct existential threat’ of climate change nears point of no return: UN *Global hunger on rise, climate change to blame: UN *Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas

Consumerism/Lifestyle

Raj Patel: Capitalism made simple, or world history in 7 cheap things

Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. Award-winning writer and activist Raj Patel makes the case that in making these things cheap, modern commerce has governed, transformed and devastated the earth. Also included, an interview with Patel and co-author Jason Moore.

Food/Farming

Toxic legacy: New research confirms pesticide link to birth defects

From Non-gmoreport.com: The most disturbing finding of the study was the epigenetic effects of atrazine; which means its not just those who are exposed to it that faced health risks, but also their descendants. Dr. Winchester calls the discovery of this link between pesticides and epigenetic changes “the most important next discovery in all medicine.”

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #193

HIGHLIGHTS: *Floods in Assam, Nagaland and U.P. *SC Stays construction in all states pending Solid Waste Management policy *Govt claims India restored 9.8 million hectares of degraded land since 2011 *NGT forms panel on potable groundwater *Thousands march across US to protest environment crisis *Scientists calculate ‘point of no return’ for dealing with climate change

ALTERNATIVES

Memory, fire and hope: Five lessons from Standing Rock

From Common Dreams: The forced eviction of the Standing Rock protestors is simply the latest chapter in a violent, 500-year-old history of colonisation against the First Nations. It’s also the latest chapter in the battle between an extractive capitalist model and the possibility of a post-capitalist world. For now, let’s remember this movement’s enduring lessons.

Conflict/Dispossession

The magnificent seven: The rights defenders targeted by the Indian state

On August 28, 2018, some of India’s leading land and human rights defenders were arrested or had their homes raided on charges of conspiring to assassinate the PM Narendra Modi, among other things. Here, we present their profiles and some selected writings/talks, as well as a video dossier of the draconian UAPA law, courtesy TheWire.in

CLIMATE CHANGE

Memo to The New York Times: How not to talk about climate change

From Jacobin Magazine: The New York Times’ blockbuster story on climate change concludes that democracy and human nature are to blame for the climate crisis. They’re wrong. You cannot tell the story of climate change without telling the story of twentieth-century capitalism. This isn’t just a missed opportunity or a partial story—it’s the wrong story.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #192

HIGHLIGHTS: *Leading Indian activists arrested in multi-city raids *India to double emissions, but within Paris commitments *Goa may go Kerala way: Gadgil *Northeast losing canopy cover at alarming rate: study *UN-appointed scientists warn of capitalism’s imminent demise *Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record *Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence

Conflict/Dispossession

The defenders: Nine activists defending the Earth from violent assault

Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of a natural world under ever more violent assault. A series of portraits of people who are risking their lives to defend the land and environment today, from India to South Africa. Also read: ‘Why 2017 Was the Deadliest Year for Environmental Activists’

Bookshelf

The Economist

Bookshelf: Caste and Nature: Dalits and Indian Environmental Politics

Rarely do Indian environmental discourses examine nature through the lens of caste. Mukul Sharma shows how the two phenomena are intimately connected, and compares Dalit meanings of environment to Neo-brahminism and mainstream environmental thought. Here, he argues that the Ambedkarite vision is relevant for environmental sustainability, and it is Indian environmentalists who have marginalised Ambedkar.

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NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #191

HIGHLIGHTS: *Flood deathtoll climbs in Kerala, Karnataka and Himachal *Government comes out with standard conditions for environment clearances *India bans 18 pesticides *Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve enters UNESCO list *India lost one-third of its coastline from erosion *July 2018 was third-warmest such month on Earth *Monsanto ordered to pay $289m as jury rules weedkiller caused cancer

ALTERNATIVES

Tribute: Masanobu Fukuoka, the ‘one-straw revolutionary’ of agriculture

August 16th marks ten years since the passing of the legendary Japanese farmer and author Masanobu Fukuoka, who initiated the natural farming movement. Here’s a documentary on his life and work, along with notes by Larry Korn, Fukuoka’s American student and the translator of his book, ‘One Straw Revolution,’ considered the ‘bible’ of natural farming.

Consumerism/Lifestyle

“Two” – A film fable by Satyajit Ray

In 1964, renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray was asked to create a short film for a TV-showcase by American oil company Esso. Asked to write and direct the film in English, Ray opted instead to make a film without words. The result is a poignant fable of modernity and ‘development’, which remains just as relevant today.

Conflict/Dispossession

Modi govt is building the world’s tallest dam – in earthquake-prone Himalayas!

Pancheshwar Dam, kingpin of the river-linking project, will be the Himalayas’ largest reservoir. It’ll be located in one of india’s most seismically active areas, yet the project has been marred by shockingly poor environment appraisal. With little chances of it being economically viable, the project is nothing but a lucrative, contractor-friendly pipedream, writes Himanshu Thakkar.

CLIMATE CHANGE

How the wealthy are plotting to leave us behind: An inside account

Douglas Rushkoff writes: (The billionaires I recently met) were preparing for a digital future that transcends the human condition altogether while insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #190

HIGHLIGHTS: *Groundwater in 16 States found to be contaminated by uranium *How India’s environment ministry compromised thermal power plant norms *India’s pre-election changes to green laws draw criticism *India’s new flash-flood warning system could be life-saving *Climate change could push Earth into irreversible ‘hothouse’ state, says study *Global wind & solar capacity surpasses 1 Terawatt

ALTERNATIVES

How the Great Transition was made: A brief history dated 2050

“The core issues would’ve gone on being ignored until the system broke down irretrievably. It should’ve been obvious that there had to be a shift to radical localism and simpler ways, but as long as rich world supermarket shelves remained well-stocked no one would take calls for downshifting seriously.” A futuristic vision from Ted Trainer.

ALTERNATIVES

Science in the Anthropocene: The emerging field of Planetary Health

It’s no longer possible to separate the health of the planet from the health of its people. Disease patterns are changing as the climate does, and human health is at risk from loss of biodiversity, depleted water supplies, environmental toxins, and collapsing food systems. From this realisation has come a new research field: planetary health.

Conserve/Resist

Appuppen

How Andhra Pradesh built India’s first police state using Aadhaar and a Census

Gopal Sathe writes: The AP government now has access the intimate personal details of 43 million of the state’s 50 million residents: GPS coordinates of their homes, medicines they use, the food rations they eat, real-time feeds of thousands of security cameras, their castes and sub-castes, their religion, and of course — their Aadhaar numbers.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #189

HIGHLIGHTS: *Study finds genetically modified ingredients in 32% of India’s food products *7 deadly pesticides world has banned used in India *SC slams Centre for extending thermal emission deadline *Sonam Wangchuk conferred with Ramon Magsaysay Award *Just 13% of the world’s oceans untouched by human impact *An international delegation talked Vietnam out of nuclear power

CLIMATE CHANGE

Charles Eisenstein: Why I am afraid of global cooling

Climate science has consistently underestimated the effect of biology on climate. A geomechanical bias holds sway, seeing life as hostage to fluctuations in atmospheric components. In contrast, a living planet view holds that fundamentally it’s life itself that maintains the conditions for life, and the depletion of life is the biggest threat to the climate.

ALTERNATIVES

The Indian Express

India is not ‘self-destructing’ – it’s being destroyed systematically

A startlingly pessimistic vision of India’s looming environmental and economic collapse by a senior business leader deserves our urgent attention and ought to revive the debate on development, democracy and policy choices. It’s also the closest we have got to a confession from an insider as to what has really been going in the country.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Welcome to the Meghalayan Age, the latest stage in Earth’s history

4200 years ago, a sweeping mega-drought devastated agricultural societies across the globe, wiping out civilizations from Ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia, Palestine and the Yangtze River Valley. Now, scientists say the cataclysmic event marks the beginning of a new geologic age: Late Holocene Meghalayan, which encompasses everything from the start of the drought to the present.

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NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #188

HIGHLIGHTS: *Monsoon plays truant in food bowl of India; rainfall deficit increases *Farmers’ Body Announces Nationwide Stir Against Modi Govt’s MSP ‘Betrayal’ *Land Acquisition Wrench in Modi’s Bullet Train Project *Telangana clamps down on glyphosate *Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world *Ireland votes to become world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels

Bookshelf

Classic in Focus: The Natural History of Selborne, by Gilbert White

From The Guardian: White’s Natural History, a founding classic of its genre, is deemed the fourth most-published book in the English language, after the Bible, Shakespeare and Bunyan, and has certainly been in print since first publication, while the benign White himself is now recognised equally as a great stylist and pioneer ecologist. A tribute.

Conflict/Dispossession

There is nowhere left to run

Ratheesh Pisharody writes: There’s really nowhere to run whether we are mammals, trees, insects or even indigenous tribes. What chances do we see for the planet’s revival? When humans take away both “space” and “time” from our co-passengers on this planet, we’re leaving no “leverage” for the others to “somehow” adjust and make it through.

Conflict/Dispossession

Special Feature: Three views from the global economy’s energy cliff

Here are three leading observers on the world’s increasingly shaky energy situation. Minqui Li presents a through-going analysis of the global energy scenario from 2018-2050 based on the latest data, Kurt Cobb suggests that ‘peak oil’ maybe a process, rather than a event, while Chris Martenson issues a stark warning on the coming oil crash.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #187

HIGHLIGHTS: *India tops global pollution deaths of 9 million a year: Study * 55,000 trees to be axed for second Goa airport *Animals are “legal entity,” Uttarakhand HC rules *Great Indian Bustard close to extinction *All-time heat records set past week *Japan reels from heavy rains; dozens killed, millions evacuated * Heatwave grips North America

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