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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“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.
Shashank Kalra writes: We have a vivid vision of a thriving urban space; but what would a thriving rural space look like? This was one of the key questions I went with in this Gramya Manthan, a rural immersion-programme. Here, I shall bring up some of the subtler issues, which aren’t ‘rural issues’ but all-pervasive.
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.
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.
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
From Grist Magazine: It’s the hottest month of one of the hottest years in the history of civilization, and the world is being battered by extreme weather events – unprecedented heatwaves in japan, wildfires in Greece and the Arctic Circle, and flooding in Philippines and Laos, where a dam was washed away, forcing thousands to flee.
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.
The Indian Express
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.
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.
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
From Asian Age: Just as one wonders if one has reached a dead end, a new wave of environmental politics is emerging. The struggle against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi stands is a major symbol of these movements. The politics of environment and the battles for livelihood become a microcosm for the democratic struggles today.
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.
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.
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.
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
Kanak Mani Dixit, founding editor of ‘Himal Southasian’, writes: When ‘organic environmentalism’ rises from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable, South Asia and its peoples will be protected. At that point, no force will be able to stop activism across the frontiers and South Asia will begin to tackle pollution and dislocation as one.
Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.
During my first encounter with resource depletion issues I thought re-localisation would be a strategy to defy the odds. One relocates to a resource abundant small geography and maintains it through a community driven process. But then, I never pursued it. However, the recent news of India’s looming water crisis has got me thinking again.
From The New Left Review: If fidelity to GDP growth amounts to the religion of the modern world, then Herman Daly surely counts as a leading heretic. Benjamin Kunkel interviews the preeminent figure in ecological economics, and the author of perhaps the most fundamental and eloquently logical case against endless economic growth that’s yet produced.
HIGHLIGHTS: *Starvation deaths continue in Jharkhand *India eyeing 100GW solar-capacity *Uranium ‘widespread’ in India’s groundwater *Global warming: 800 million at risk in in South Asia – World Bank *Norway pledges £12m to fight global forest crime *UN: 40 million Americans living in poverty *One football pitch of forest lost every second in 2017, data reveals
J.C. Kumarappa was a stalwart of India’s freedom movement, Gandhian economic philosopher, pioneer in the development of village and cottage industries and advocate of a decentralised, localised economy of permanence and freedom. Yet, he remains practically unknown to the present generation of Indians. A tribute to Kumarappa by Pranjali Bandhu, editor of his collected writings.
Kerry Emanuel writes: There are strong cultural biases against discussion of ‘tail risk’ in climate science; particularly the accusation of “alarmism”. Does the dictum to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” not apply to climate scientists? If we omit discussion of tail risk, are we really telling the whole truth?
Down to Earth
Sopan Joshi writes: Sanitation links the rich to the poor, the land to the water, the clean to the unclean, the sacred to the untouchable. But sanitation discussions among India’s elites is driven by a concern about India’s international image. If it evades our dirty realities, SBA will not go beyond an attempted image makeover.
“These machines shape the way we view reality. We’re not just merging with machines, but with the companies that run these machines—who run these machines for profit. And here’s the existential threat… these technologies will change what it means to be human. Once we take this leap, it will be very hard to reverse course.”
HIGHLIGHTS: *India Facing Worst Water Crisis In History: NITI Aayog *Delhi’s air pollution literally off the chart *40,000 Indians evicted for ‘conservation’ in 2017 *India gets first biodiversity museum * BP’s global data for 2017 shows record highs for coal and renewables *Antarctic ice melting faster than ever *China testing roads paved with solar panels
From Nature: Science fiction is increasingly in the here and now. With technological change cranked up to warp speed and day-to-day life smacking of dystopia, where does science fiction go? Has mainstream fiction taken up the baton? Six prominent American science fiction writers reflect on what the genre has to offer about our common future.
Aseem Shrivastava writes: Ghosh insisted that human culture does not consist just of literature, cinema, music and dance. Rather, the patrimony of ecological culture, which is not just an artefact of the past, resides in the practical collective memory of communities, showing pathways of “living creatively with nature”. Such rooted wisdom lights up paths to
Oil. The 20th century was shaped by it. The 21st century is moving beyond it. But who gave birth to the oil industry? What have they done with the immense wealth and power it granted them? And what are they planning to do with that power in a post-carbon world? The Corbett Report finds out.
Nanduwali in east Rajasthan started flowing again when the villagers decided to work with nature and not against it. There was a time when they believed that crops grow only with rainfall -lacking knowledge about the underground movement of water and how it can be enhanced. Today, the revived river is a lifeline to them.
HIGHLIGHTS: *Coal-fired power plants killing 80,000 adults in India yearly *Clashes erupt over water, power across India *Narmada flows “backwards”, sea water intrudes 72 km *Andhra to become India’s first Zero Budget Natural Farming state *Anti-coal mine activist shot dead In Jharkhand *CO2 levels exceed 411ppm *Puerto Rico death toll from Hurricane Maria near 5,000
Grown over a million acres of farmland, the HMT rice variety – developed by Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade, a small cultivator and self-trained plant breeder – brought a measure of prosperity to several hundred thousand farmers in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. Bharat Mansata pays tribute to the legendary farmer and seed saver who died on Sunday
Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto represents another big click on the ratchet of corporate power over farming and food. With the ‘Big-Six’ of global agribusiness now set to turn into the ‘even bigger three’, farmers and consumers face more GMOs and pesticides, less choice, and deeper price gouging. Agroecology has never looked more attractive.