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‘Tail Risk’: What the scientists are not telling you about climate change

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?

ALTERNATIVES

Down to Earth

Toilets for all? May be a crappy idea

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.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #185

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

ALTERNATIVES

Six science-fiction authors parse the implications of our unhinged era

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.

ALTERNATIVES

Dhrubajyoti Ghosh: The intrepid ecologist and his ‘laboratory of survival’

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

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #184

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

Economy

Monsanto and Bayer: Agriculture just took a turn for the worse

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.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Modi and Adani: the old friends laying waste to India’s environment

From Climate Home News: Perhaps the most egregious fix, given the prominence of the issue and its consequences for Indians’ health, is the Modi government’s attempts to defer a December 2017 deadline for air pollution standards for thermal power plants. Without these, India’s hopes of reducing deadly air pollution from its electricity sector are nixed.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #183

HIGHLIGHTS: *India ranks 177 out of 180 in Environmental Performance Index globally *India most vulnerable country to climate change, says HSBC report *42 Indian rivers have extremely high concentration of neurotoxic heavy metals *Rural wage growth down from 8.4% under UPA to 0.2% under NDA: Crisil report *Renewable Energy Now Employs 10.3 Million People Globally

ALTERNATIVES

We have invented a mountain of superflous needs, says ‘the world’s poorest president’

José Mujica was the President of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015 and was a former urban guerrilla fighter who was imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. Often referred to as the “world’s most humble president”, he retired from office in 2015 with an approval rating of 70 percent.

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Bookshelf

Book review: The Water Will Come

‘As the waters rise,’ Jeff Goodell writes, ‘millions of people will be displaced, many of them in poor countries, creating generations of climate refugees that will make today’s Syrian war refugee crisis look like a high school drama production.’ There’s no longer any doubt that the rise in global sea levels will reshape human civilisation.

Conflict/Displacement

Polavaram: The pointless mega dam that will displace 4,00,000

Dam’ned, a documentary by filmmaker Saraswati Kavula, takes a closer look at how the Polavaram Dam project affects the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people, with dubious benefits expected. Despite increasing evidence of the destructive consequences of big dams across the world, why do our governments keep pushing for these mega projects, she asks.

ALTERNATIVES

The Pathalgadi rebellion

Tribals make up 26% of Jharkhand’s population. Recently, many Adivasi villages in Jharkhand have put up giant plaques declaring their gram sabha as the only sovereign authority and banning ‘outsiders’ from their area. The Hindu reports on a political movement that is gathering steam across the State’s tribal belt, originally inspired by the PESA Act.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #182

HIGHLIGHTS: *Farmers To Stop Supplying Vegetables, Grains, Milk To Cities Across India For 10 Days *Only 20% of live water storage in reservoirs *50,000 farmers protest bullet train, expressway *SC rejects Monsanto plea *Costa Rica to ban fossil fuels *World’s largest insurer Allianz divests from coal *Tourism responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions

ALTERNATIVES

Why we should bulldoze the business school

Martin Parker writes: B-school market managerialism sells a utopia for the wealthy and powerful, one which students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining. But it comes at a very high cost: environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.

Conflict/Displacement

Jyoti Shinoli/People's Archive of Rural India

Caged in concrete: an Adivasi urban nightmare in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony

From PARI: The people of Aarey find their eviction and ‘rehabilitation’ absurd. Prakash Bhoir, 46, who lives in Keltipada, says, “We are Adivasis [he is a Malhar Koli]. This land is a source of income and survival for us. Can we do cultivation in those high-rise buildings? We just cannot live without soil and trees.”

Conflict/Displacement

The Char Dham road project: Narendra Modi’s Himalayan blunder

The 900km, all-weather road enhancing connectivity between four major Hindu pilgrimage sites is PM Modi’s pet project. It will not only displace hundreds of people, but create a massive rush of pilgrims, putting untold pressure on the delicate Himalayan ecology. Experts say it’s also ill-conceived, given its location on the ‘floodway’ of the Ganga basin.

Conserve/Resist

Charles Eisenstein: Opposition to GMOs is neither unscientific nor immoral

The pro-and anti-GMO positions will remain irreconcilably polarized as long as larger questions remain unexamined. What’s at stake here is much more than a choice about GMOs. It is a choice between two very different systems of food production, two visions of society, and two fundamentally different ways to relate to plants, animals, and soil.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #181

HIGHLIGHTS: *14 of world’s 15 most polluted cities in India: WHO *5,000 Gujarat Farmers Seek Permission to Die *Hundreds of Tonnes of Illegal GM Seed Import Takes Place Into India *China, India lead the rise in global antibiotic consumption *Pakistan May Have Just Set a World Heat Record *EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides

Education/Awareness

Missing the forest for the trees? A perspective on the draft forest policy

Ramesh Venkataraman writes: A common theme running through the policy document is increasing tree and canopy cover in all areas with low tree cover at present. While prima facie this seems to be a laudable objective that is aligned with climate change mitigation goals, this raises a number of questions from ecological and sustainability perspectives.

ALTERNATIVES

The ZAD will survive: Dispatches from Europe’s largest ‘liberated territory’

It was supposed to be the site of western France’s biggest airport, but instead, it became the center of a utopian experiment. Hundreds of squatters –eco-warriors to some, green jihadis to others– now live in the ZAD, which resisted a eviction operation after a 2,500 strong police unit recently forced their way into the camp.

ALTERNATIVES

Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Farmers’ protests reveal growing anger against India’s development model

Ashish Kothari & Aseem Shrivastava write: The growing protests of farmers around the country-last month’s protests in Mumbai being the latest-is not just a claim for dignity. Even more portentously, it calls into question the paradigmatic rationality of the reigning development model. Alternatives do exist, practised and conceived of at hundreds of sites in India.

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NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #180

HIGHLIGHTS: *Centre proposes relaxation of CRZ norms *44% probability of below-normal monsoon, reservoirs at 25% of live storage capacity *Farm income drops in 16 states *More than 95% of world’s population breathe dangerous air, major study finds *30% of Great Barrier Reef coral died in ‘catastrophic’ 2016 heatwave *Scientists accidentally create enzyme that eats plastic

CLIMATE CHANGE

How much ‘carbon budget’ is left to limit global warming to 1.5C?

Limiting global warming to 1.5C requires strictly limiting the total amount of carbon emissions between now and the end of the century. However, there is more than one way to calculate this allowable amount of additional emissions, known as the “carbon budget”. In this article, Carbon Brief assesses nine new carbon budget estimates released recently.

ALTERNATIVES

Bookshelf: River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future

The Ganges and its tributaries are now subject to sewage pollution ‘half-a-million times over the recommended limit for bathing’ in places, not to mention unchecked runoff from heavy metals, fertilisers, carcinogens and the occasional corpse. ‘Where is this going?’ That’s the question at the heart of Victor Mallet’s book on the river, writes Laura Cole.

Conserve/Resist

A blow from an axe: Ramachandra Guha on India’s new forest policy

Both social equity and environmental sustainability are critical to our republic’s future. The present government seems bent on reversing the modest gains of the past three decades by making the corporate sector, once more, the key beneficiary of State forest policies. This is the inescapable conclusion one reaches after reading the ‘Draft Forest Policy, 2018’.

Culture/Cognition

Western science is finally catching up with Traditional Knowledge

From The Conversation: Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world? As ways of knowing, both systems share important and fundamental attributes. There are also many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.

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