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What America lost when it lost the bison

From The Atlantic: In the 18th century, European colonizers virtually eliminated the American bison. When we lose animals, we also lose everything those animals do. When insects decline, plants go unpollinated. When birds disappear, pests go uncontrolled and seeds stay put. When bison are exterminated, springtime changes in ways that we still don’t fully understand.

ALTERNATIVES

Welcome to the global rebellion against neoliberalism

Massive protests have been roiling through Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, Sudan, the UK, and Zimbabwe—and that’s only since September. As distinct as the protests seem, the uprisings rocking scores of countries all share a common theme, argues Ben Ehrenreich.

CLIMATE CRISIS

The Hindu

How caste shapes water conflicts in drought-ridden Maharashtra

Anuj Ghanekar writes: Drought affects everyone, but the Dalits are the worst affected. They often become targets of threats and violence in different ways if they try to access water or demand rights for water, with several atrocities on record. One study noted several instances where water sources used by Dalits were deliberately contaminated with human excreta.

Conflict/Dispossession

Bolivia, Brazil and South America’s never-ending resource curse

From The Intercept: Anthropologist and Bolivia scholar Bret Gustafson offers a nuanced analysis of how the coup in Bolivia unfolded, who benefits from the present crisis, and what is at stake for the overwhelmingly indigenous population. Also, Glenn Greenwald talks about his recent conversation with Brazil’s former president Lula, who was recently released from prison.

Conflict/Dispossession

The Great Water Grab: Wall Street is buying up the world’s water

Jo-Shing Yang reports on how Wall Street banks like Citigroup and multibillionaires are buying up water sources all over the world at unprecedented pace. Simultaneously, governments are moving fast to limit citizens’ ability to become water self-sufficient. Also read an investigative report from The Guardian: Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad

CLIMATE CRISIS

'Skeleton Arresting Masqueraders', 1891 painting by James Ensor

Catabolism: The final phase of Capitalism

From Counterpunch: In a contracting, growth-less economy, the profit motive can have a powerful catabolic impact on capitalist society. In biological terms, “catabolism” refers to the condition whereby a living thing feeds on itself. Catabolic capitalism is a self-cannibalizing system whose insatiable hunger for profit can only be fed by devouring the society that sustains it.

ALTERNATIVES

Compulsive consumption: The malaise at the core of the climate crisis

Thanks to the capitalist propaganda machine, we’ve forgotten the difference between ‘conscious’ and ‘compulsive’ consumption. Frugality, which once used to be the essence of responsible living has been labelled as ‘shame’. Though rarely discussed, this was the beginning–and now the core–of the climate crisis. And it has begun to control all aspects of our lives.

Education/Awareness

What’s polluting Delhi’s air?

We don’t seem to have decisive answers to simple questions like how polluted is Delhi, what are its main sources, and where to start controlling it. Here, Dr. Sarath Guttikunda attempts to answer one perpetual question, what are the sources of air pollution in Delhi? Interestingly, this commonly asked question is also the most confusing and unanswered.

ALTERNATIVES

Tribute: Is your ecology deep or shallow?

In 1973, Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss coined the concept of ‘deep ecology’, arguing that only a “deep” transformation of modern society could prevent ecological collapse. Næss criticized one-sided technological approaches in dealing with environmental problems, an attitude he called ‘shallow ecology’. A tribute to the visionary thinker, including a documentary-film on his life and work.

ALTERNATIVES

Rojava: The radical eco-anarchist experiment betrayed by the West, and bludgeoned by Turkey

Four million people, thousands of communes, a non-hierarchical social structure based on gender equality and a cooperative economy based on ecological principles. So why is the world silent when the greatest contemporary alternative political-economic experiment—achieved against impossible odds—is thrown under the bus? Here’s a closer look at Rojava as Turkey invades the Kurdish autonomous zone.

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ALTERNATIVES

Why technological solutions cannot combat ecological challenges

From The Hindu: More fuel-efficient cars usually mean that car owners take many more trips, in effect nullifying the saving of fuel from the technical innovation. This simple example shows why any advocacy of a lasting technological solution to ecological challenges is only destined to set the stage for the next generation of ecological problems.

Economy

The ‘Economics Nobel’ winners’ triumph is at the expense of the world’s poor

Sanjay Reddy writes: The administration of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – which Nobel prize winners Duflot and Banerjee helped pioneer – has suffered from more than a whiff of neocolonial attitudes. Arguably, all of the difficulties of RCTs stem from a single source: a failure to recognize the full personhood of those who are affected by interventions.

ALTERNATIVES

Climate justice is injustice, if partial

Ratheesh Pisharody writes: While we pretend to have weaved in a “justice angle” into the climate emergency narrative, we conveniently veto-ed ourselves back in. Thus we ensure we represent the perpetrators and also the victims. By taking away a large part of that victim-hood-bank we seem to want an unfair share of “climate justice” too.

Conflict/Dispossession

Mayank Aggarwal/Mongabay

The invisible victims of an unfinished city

From Mongabay India: First envisaged in the early 2000s, Lavasa was touted as independent India’s first privately owned hill city. But over the years, the project faced numerous legal cases of usurping the land of villagers and violating environmental conditions. It’s now a ghost town with empty, unfinished construction or buildings vacated by their occupants.

CLIMATE CRISIS

This is not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the first Mass Extermination Event.

Justin McBrien writes: The planetary atrocity of ecocide has no geological analogue. To call it the “sixth extinction event” is to make an active, organized eradication sound like some kind of passive accident. We’re in the midst of the First Extermination Event, wherein capital has pushed all life on Earth to the brink of extinction — extermination by capitalism.

CLIMATE CRISIS

A carbon atom’s plea

Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. I am a Carbon atom, writing in the hope that the intelligence operating here might be able and willing to come to our aid. In particular, I am acting on behalf of the many Carbon atoms – who are contently resting in peace, unaware that they’re in great danger.

ALTERNATIVES

How the ‘Gujarat model’ is devouring Gujarat (and not just Gujarat)

From The Hindu: The perverse ‘achievements’ of those relentless in their advocacy of the Sardar-Sarovar dam are now evident. The riches of Gujarat—shown as a model to the rest of India—are the result of such violent extraction, exploitation and destruction that benefit a few while victimising many. Any protest is being beaten into the earth.

ALTERNATIVES

War on Earth: US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries

From The Intercept: Industrialized militaries are a bigger part of the climate emergency than we know. If the US-military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the world’s 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter, says a new study. Another study found that America has spent an astonishing $5.9 trillion on wars since 2001.

ALTERNATIVES

SAPACC: A big step forward for South Asia’s climate justice movement

From The Wire: The SAPACC campaign rests on two pillars: climate science and mass mobilisation. Large organisations coming together on an issue considered too abstract for a movement only a few years ago is a significant shift. It reflects the climate’s intensifying impact in South-Asia and how the issue has exploded in the public consciousness.

CLIMATE CRISIS

‘Hothouse Earth’ and possible trajectories for humanity and the planet

Ayushi Uppal writes: While the concept of Anthropocene remains contested, there is consensus on the human-led changes to the climate and the need for intervention. Humanity must create a pathway from a possible ‘Hothouse earth’ to a ‘Stabilized Earth’ state, where human activities create biogeophysical feedbacks that sustain the Earth System within the planetary threshold.

ECOCIDE/EXTINCTION

It’s not just about the bees – earthworms need love, too

From The Guardian: A recent scientific study has found that 42% of fields in Britain surveyed by farmers were seriously deficient in earthworms; in some fields they were missing altogether. Particularly hard-hit were deep-burrowing worms, which are valuable in helping soil collect and store rainwater, but were absent from 16% of fields in the study. Jules

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Development/Growth

From Andhra to Kashmir – The Return of the East India Companies

From Great Game India: At least two of the Big Four global corporate consultancies are reported to be directly involved in the big-ticket Kashmir Development Plan – Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. A pilot project was initiated in 2017 for the creation of a ‘Model Village’ in Kathua, Kashmir, based on a blueprint by PricewaterhouseCoopers

ALTERNATIVES

Why science needs the humanities to solve climate change

When thinking about climate solutions, people often picture technical fixes. In principle, scientists and engineers could deploy any these–but should they? To answer this, society needs the humanities and its intangible tools, argues Steven Allison & Tyrus Miller. Also included, a talk on ‘Climate Change and the Humanities’ by Subaltern Studies pioneer Dr Dipesh Chakrabarty.

Bookshelf

Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries

From The New York Times: Scientist Monica Gagliano’s botanical research, which has broken boundaries in the field of plant behavior, indicate that plants are, to some extent, intelligent. Her experiments suggest that they can learn behaviors and remember them. Her work also suggests that plants can “hear” running water and even produce clicking noises, perhaps to communicate.

Bookshelf

Andrew Simms: Economics is doing great harm – so let’s rethink it

From The Guardian: Roasted by heatwaves, this year the world went into ecological overshoot on 29 July, the earliest yet. Unless we begin again with economics, understanding and letting go what has gone wrong, one day soon everything will have fallen apart and nobody will quite know why. But the answer will be: it was the economy, stupid.

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