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How India’s economists have failed its farmers

Devinder Sharma writes: If raising productivity is the major factor I see no reason why Punjab farmers should be committing suicide. But the fact that economists don’t want to acknowledge is that it is actually the low price that farmers being deliberately paid that is the primary reason for the terrible agrarian crisis that prevails.

Bookshelf

Giants: The Global Power Elite

From Global Research: Fundamentally, this book is a call to action. Author Robert J. Burrowes uncovers the critical role played by the global power elite in creating our present predicament. If we cannot persuade the global power elite to respond sensibly to that predicament, or nonviolently compel it to do so, humanity’s time on Earth is indeed limited.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Just how prepared are nuclear plants for climate threats?

From Ensia: Research suggests that at least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built close to sea level could be threatened by serious flooding from accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges. Meanwhile, scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that safety standards set by national and international nuclear regulators are out of date.

ALTERNATIVES

Tribute: Dr. G. Nammalvar, messiah of Tamil Nadu’s organic revolution

It’s been five years since the passing of G. Nammalvar, the icon of sustainable farming who died on December 30, 2013, while leading a campaign against the plan to extract methane gas in Cauvery delta. An agriculture scientist, he left his job and travelled across Tamil Nadu spreading the message of organic farming using story-telling.

ALTERNATIVES

What It Will Take: Rejecting Dead-Ends and False Friends in the Fight for the Earth

Carol Dansereau writes: Is there a place for incremental reforms in our struggle to save humanity? Yes. But support for such reforms must be carried out in the context of our larger goal: securing and using real power through democratically managed public-ownership and guaranteed economic rights. Everything we do needs to feed into that goal.

ALTERNATIVES

Herman Daly reviews ‘Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet’

In this book, Kerryn Higgs traces the rise of economic growth to the status of the number one goal of nations, and how this pernicious idea prevailed over carefully reasoned counter-arguments through well-funded, carefully orchestrated propaganda. Its a kick in the head for those of us who believe in the persuasive power of reasoned argument.

ALTERNATIVES

After Sri Lanka passed bans on lethal varieties of pesticide, suicides fell by half

From Vox.com: Sri Lanka is perhaps the most famous case of suicides falling after a selective pesticide ban. One study estimated that the suicide rate in the country fell by half after it banned certain pesticides in 1995. According to the World Health Organization, at least 110,000 people commit suicide by consuming pesticides each year.

Development/Growth

Nafeez Ahmed: This is how UN scientists are preparing for capitalism’s demise

From The Independent: Capitalism as we know it is over. So suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN secretary general. The main reason? We’re transitioning rapidly to a radically different global economy, due to our increasingly unsustainable exploitation of the planet’s environmental resources and the shift to less efficient energy sources.

ALTERNATIVES

The Sunrise Movement and the ‘Green New Deal’: Climate hope from Trump’s America?

Naomi Klein writes on the game-changing proposal for a ‘Green New Deal’ mooted by popular U.S. politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Also, an inside view of the youth climate movement unexpectedly making waves in Trump’s America, and an interview with co-founder Varshni Prakash. Also included is a critical take on the Green New Deal by Don Fitz.

Conflict/Dispossession

What’s the truth behind the Botswana elephant deaths?

The news is awash with reports of 87 elephants having been “killed by poachers” in Botswana, supposedly a result of wildlife guards no longer carrying firearms. The story originates with “Elephants Without Borders,” an NGO which is getting massive publicity, and presumably donations, as a result. Survival International’s Stephen Corry digs up the real story.

Conserve/Resist

Read: A PIL to protect India’s vital, life-supporting natural resources

The full text of a Public Interest Litigation initiated before the Supreme Court of India, by Akhilesh Chipli and Shankar Sharma, requesting the court to draw firm legal limits on India’s suicidally destructive economic growth during the last three decades, which has led to rapidly deteriorating ecological conditions (air, water, soil, climate) in the country.

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Conserve/Resist

Photo essay: Rivers of the Island City

Mumbai has four rivers: Mithi, Oshiwara, Poisar and Dahisar, which are (together) 40.7km long. And yet, for most part, they remain invisible to the city’s population. Today, haphazard development policies along with encroachments, have led to the rapid deterioration of these rivers, which have been practically reduced to drains. A photo essay by Pooja Jain.

ALTERNATIVES

The great Indian irrigation deceit

J. Harsha, Director, Central Water Commission, writes: India fails to deliver water in time, and in adequate quantities to small landholdings (< 1 hectare) belonging to marginal farmers (constituting 85 per cent of total farmers) cultivating in 43.64 million hectares of canal-irrigated areas. The impact of this great Indian irrigation deceit is enormous on agriculture

Bookshelf

Carbon Ideologies: ‘The most honest take on climate change yet’

From Vox.com: “For a long time I was a climate change denier,” says William T. Vollmann, the award-winning American author, journalist, and war correspondent. Yet, he has just completed a sprawling, two volume polemic called Carbon Ideologies, which explores the ideology of energy consumption, and is addressed to humans living in a “hot dark future.”

Education/Awareness

Navigating through Delhi’s polluted air: How far have we come?

Madhav Nakra writes: This year, the flimsy guidelines issued by the Supreme Court ahead of Diwali were to burn ‘green crackers’ for a two-hour duration. Thus, it’s no surprise that the order was not complied with. The 54-page judgement ultimately went up in flames along with these mysterious green crackers which nobody seemed to possess.

ALTERNATIVES

Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding ecological grief

From The Conversation: The eminent American naturalist Aldo Leopold described the emotional toll of ecological loss thus: “One of the penalties of an ecological education,” he wrote, “is to live alone in a world of wounds.” Ecological grief reminds us that climate change is not just some abstract scientific concept or a distant environmental problem.

Conflict/Dispossession

Enough! Why 1,00,000 farmers are marching to Delhi on November 30

From The Telegraph: India’s farmers are marching once again to demand that Parliament discuss the agrarian crisis. The underlying message is simple. If over 3,00,000 debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide in the past 25 years, then the agrarian crisis is no longer an economic one. It’s a moral crisis. It cannot be allowed to continue.

CLIMATE CHANGE

‘It is time to rebel’: Meet Greta Thunberg, 15-year-old climate firebrand

This September, Greta Thunberg went on strike and sat on the steps of Sweden’s parliament building in Stockholm. Her demand? That the government take radical action on climate change. Since then, this autistic 15-year-old has become the face of climate resistance in Europe. Her motto? “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules.”

CLIMATE CHANGE

Let Malibu burn: A political history of California’s Fire Coast

From Los Angeles Times: As yet another mega-fire rages through California, we present the powerhouse 1996 essay by Mike Davis, covering history, science, Marxist analysis— and a certain amount of trolling. Its main point is that Californians will never accept that fire is not only common there, but part of its ecology going back centuries.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #200

HIGHLIGHTS: *Study links groundwater exploitation to India’s carbon emissions spike *Farmers suffer as states yet to declare drought *3 reports sound alarm on ocean-warming *G20 nations still led by fossil fuel industry: Report *Montreal Protocol assessment reveals healing ozone *69 of the richest 100 entities on the planet are corporations *Giraffes given ‘critically endangered’ status

Culture/Cognition

J.C. Bose: Why the great scientist’s legacy remains astonishing a century later

Stefany Ann Goldberg writes: Famous for his plant-response studies, J.C. Bose was also the first scientist to study inorganic matter the way a biologist examines a muscle or a nerve. Bose performed his plant experiments on rocks and metals, too. Remarkably, he found that the “non-living” responded when subjected to mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Could one man single-handedly ruin the planet?

David Wallace-Wells writes: Brazil’s newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro just might test the proposition that no individual matters all that much to the climate. He plans to open the entire Amazon rainforest to agricultural development — the industrial-scale felling of trees, which, will release into the atmosphere all the CO2 they have stored inside them.

Food/Farming

“A scam bigger than Rafale”: P. Sainath on Modi government’s Fasal Bima Yojana

From The Business Standard: “Selected companies like Reliance, Essar have been given the task of providing crop insurance. In just one Maharashtra district, where the soya crop failed, Reliance earned a net profit of Rs 143 crore without investing a single rupee. Now, multiply this amount to each of the districts it has been entrusted.”

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #199

HIGHLIGHTS: *18,000 Maharashtra villages already declared drought-prone Farmers from across India to hold protest rally in Delhi on Nov 30 *Protests force Ladakh motor rally to change course *60% of Earth’s wildlife wiped out since 1970 *Only 23% of landmass survives as wilderness *Research finds large buildup of ocean heat *Petrochemicals lead oil demand growth

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Conflict/Dispossession

Illustration: Sumit Kumar/BBC

Chai with Narasimha

This is a snapshot of a fleeting encounter between a Karnataka farmer and a water activist at the premises of a leading agricultural university. In a few painful sentences, it captures the everyday desperation that is the lot of the average Indian farmer, caught between an unraveling climate, a ruthless market and a malignant state.

Bookshelf

The economics Nobel went to a guy who enabled climate change denial and delay

William Nordhaus’ low-ball estimates of the costs of climate change and high-ball estimates of the costs of containing the threat contributed to a lost decade in the fight against climate change, lending intellectual legitimacy to denial and delay. The IPCC report, released the day Nordhaus got his Nobel, heightens the award’s absurdity, writes Eugene Linden.

Conflict/Dispossession

Modi’s other dubious French deal: The world’s largest nuclear plant at Jaitapur

Building the world’s largest nuclear power project in an ecologically fragile region like Konkan, along with attendant concerns of the safety, an unsteady French nuclear industry, will pose serious challenges to the environment, biodiversity, health and livelihoods of lakhs of people in the region. Is the Modi government courting a nuclear Bhopal, asks Sonali Huria.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #198

HIGHLIGHTS: *EU approves sweeping ban on single-use plastics  *Spain to close most coal mines; Canada passes carbon tax *Yemen in danger of massive famine *Great Barrier Reef forecast warns of coral-death this summer *India Tax data shows shocking increase in corporate concessions * Ganga more polluted under Modi’s watch *75,000 tribals oppose Statue of Unity

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