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Extinction is now outpacing evolution; humans are ‘cutting down the tree of life’, warn scientists

From The Guardian: Humanity’s ongoing annihilation of wildlife is cutting down the tree of life, according to a stark new analysis. More than 300 different mammal species have been eradicated by human activities. The new research calculates the total unique evolutionary history that has been lost as a result at a startling 2.5 billion years.

Education/Awareness

USAID, Monsanto and the real reason behind Delhi’s horrific smoke season

The Delhi metropolitan area has one of the highest concentrations of population in the world, and suffocating the people of the area on an annual basis should be treated as a crime against humanity, especially when it can be controlled. Arvind Kumar writes on the connection between USAID, Monsanto and Delhi’s annual air pollution spike.

ALTERNATIVES

David Wallace-Wells: UN says climate genocide is coming. It’s actually worse.

We’re on track for four degrees of warming, more than twice as much as most scientists believe is possible to endure without inflicting climate suffering on hundreds of millions or threatening at least parts of what we call, grandly, “civilization.” The only thing that changed is that the scientists, finally, have hit the panic button.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #197

HIGHLIGHTS: *NITI Aayog proposes green cess for the Himalayan region *Maharashtra heads towards a drier drought *Met dept calls Titli, Luban cyclones “rarest of rare” occurrences *Clean energy may save 11 mn life-years in India: Study *Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says *Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé worst plastic polluters globally

ALTERNATIVES

Why growth can’t be green

Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy: Many policymakers have responded to ecological breakdown by pushing for what has come to be called “green growth.” It sounds like an elegant solution to an otherwise catastrophic problem. There is just one hitch: New evidence suggests that green growth isn’t the panacea everyone hopes for. In fact, it’s not even possible.

CLIMATE CHANGE

T.G. Jacob: The genesis and political economy of the Kerala floods

From Frontier Weekly: The flood in Kerala, created by an overdrive in construction activities, which gave enormous profits to corporate capital, now demands reconstruction work on a giant scale, which only expands the market for corporations further. It is obvious that this is not what is required. The requirement is an alternative model of reconstruction.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The IPCC systematically underestimates climate risks: here’s the proof

A Special Report on Global Warming has been released today by the IPCC, considered the international benchmark on climate change. Ahead of it, Donald Brown reviewed three independent studies which show that climate change is a much more urgent and serious threat than indicated by past IPCC reports, and examines the ethical questions they raise.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #196

HIGHLIGHTS: *India’s massive land grab in the name of Compensatory Afforestation *India eases green norms for realty *Russia signs pact for six nuclear reactors in India *Maharashtra slaps Rs 1,200 crore fine on Monsanto, others *Crucial IPCC report on climate change expected on Monday *‘Climate wrecker’ United States pushes its regressive agenda at IPCC talks

ALTERNATIVES

Why is the Indian govt silent on this 86-year-old’s fast for the river Ganga?

From Mainstream Weekly: Dr. G. D. Agrawal (now Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand) is one of India’s most distinguished environmental engineers, who served as the first Member-Secretary of India’s Central Pollution Control Board. Fasting for almost 100 days now to save the river Ganga, he’s now on his sixth, and in his own words, final “fast-unto-death”.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The study on climate-collapse they don’t want you to read – yet

A research-paper concluding that climate-induced collapse is now inevitable, was recently rejected by an academic journal, citing the emotional impact that it might have on readers. The paper offers a new framing to make sense of the disaster we face, called “deep adaptation.” It has now been released online by the author, Prof. Jem Bendell.

Development/Growth

Presenting Narendra Modi, ‘Champion of the Earth’ (Disclaimer: This is not a joke)

To the shock of greens everywhere, Indian PM Modi, whose government has absolutely the worst environmental track record in the country’s history, has been declared a UN “Champion of the Earth”. However, coming from Erik Solheim, the UN environment chief facing a string of corruption allegations himself, this ‘honour’ may not be all that surprising.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #195

HIGHLIGHTS: *Ganges runs out of water; potential food shortage looms *Over 519 developmental projects cleared over 4-yrs threaten last wild areas in India *Report: India choked on 929 million tonnes of CO2 from thermal sector *Worst drought in a generation deepens in the Greater Horn of Africa *Monsanto’s glyphosate linked to global decline in honeybees

CLIMATE CHANGE

The less you did to cause climate change, the more likely you are to pay its price

From The New Republic: Climate scientists predict deadly tropical cyclones will become rainier; that they may move more slowly and venture further into the northern hemisphere; and the hurricane season may become longer. The developed world’s emissions will be responsible for these changes. But it is the developing world that may suffer the most from it.

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ALTERNATIVES

Re-reading Tagore in the age of development gone mad

Aseem Shrivastava writes: Tagore’s play Mukta-Dhara foretells the manner in which people across the country have been losing their freedom— those uprooted by development quite obviously so, those ‘benefitting’ from it (mostly living in cities) more subtly and invisibly. This is the ecologically fatal price of ‘progress’, which Rabindranath anticipated in much of his work.

Culture/Cognition

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’

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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.

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.

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