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‘Spiritual extractivism”: Ayahuasca, colonialism, and the death of a healer

In 2018 April, a 81-year-old Peruvian indigenous healer was murdered by a Canadian man while attempting to extract her knowledge of traditional healing practices. He was in turn lynched by the local people. The sordid incident has since brought together traditional healers in the Peruvian Amazon to resist the growing threat of Western ‘spiritual extractivism’.

Bookshelf

Air Conditoning: The all-too costly feeding and care of a familiar beast

The task of explaining the wider issues associated with air conditioning is a daunting task as the weather gets warmer. In ‘Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)’, author Stan Cox shows how indoor climate control is colliding with an out-of-control outdoor climate.

Education/Awareness

Diary of a Space Zucchini: An Astronaut Imagines His Vegetable’s Voice

“I sprouted, thrust into this world without anyone consulting me…” Thus starts US Astronaut Don Pettit’s quasi-fictional account of ten days in the life of a plant growing on the International Space Station. Among other things, the plant expresses its growing awareness of people it interacts with, and the fact that they eat its ‘kind’.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The terrifying implications of India’s elections for people and the planet

Basav Sen, director, Climate Policy Project, writes: The Modi government’s far right bigotry is well known, but its equally disturbing environmental record isn’t. While indigenous peoples and other rural populations have borne the brunt of the Indian state’s environmental recklessness, urban populations aren’t faring much better. Half of the 50 most polluted cities worldwide are in India.

CLIMATE CHANGE

[email protected]: The world’s most insane energy project moves ahead

Once fully operationalised, Adani’s Carmichael would be bigger than almost any mine in the world. Collectively, the Galilee Basin mines would produce up to 330 million tonnes of coal annually, which, when burned, would release more than 700 million tonnes of CO2, ranking as the world’s seventh-largest emitter, were the Galilee projects considered a country.

Bookshelf

Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

David R. Montgomery writes: Conventional wisdom says that fertile soil is not renewable. That’s not really true. Fertility can be improved quickly through cover cropping and returning organic matter to the land. Soil-building is about getting the biology, mineral availability, and organic-matter balance right, rolling with the wheel of life instead of pushing against it.

Conflict/Dispossession

Ishaan Tharoor: How Somalia’s fishermen became pirates

From Time Magazine: Ever since a civil war brought down Somalia’s last functional government in 1991, the country’s 3,330 km of coastline —the longest in continental Africa— has been pillaged by foreign vessels, freezing out the country’s own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen. The first pirate gangs emerged in the ’90s to protect against the aggressive foreign trawlers.

Conflict/Dispossession

Forest rights: The arrogance of the ignorant

From The Hindu: That those forests inhabited by Adivasis are some of the best conserved in the subcontinent is a long-standing fact contrary to the understanding of supposedly educated Indians. Sadly, the articulate arrogance of ‘New India’ prevents them from seeing any virtue in those communities who have lived in and by the forests since times immemorial.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Anthropocene now: influential panel votes to recognise Earth’s new epoch

From NewsClick: The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), a panel that consists of 34 scientists and academics, has voted in favour of making the Anthropocene a formally defined geological unit within the official geological time scale. The term ‘Anthropocene’ denotes the current geological period, where many conditions and processes on Earth are altered by impacts of human activities.

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ALTERNATIVES

Can the economy grow forever?

To keep this kind of growth going, we need to tap more resources, which is beyond the Earth’s capacity. Till now the growth was possible because we thought resources are abundant. But today we know that we will have to experience a serious crisis in the next half century, depending upon how we use resources.

Education/Awareness

Aseem Shrivastava: Meher Engineer RIP… “Ami ki korbo?”

Prof. Meher Engineer, physicist and formerly Acting Director, J. C. Bose Institute, Kolkata and former Chairperson, Indian Academy of Social Sciences, passed away on April 24, 2019. Involved in many people’s movements working on human rights, livelihood and environmental issues, he was also an authority in climate science and active in the climate justice movement.

ALTERNATIVES

The Greta Thunberg controversy

This series by Cory Morningstar charges Greta Thunberg—the face of the youth climate activism, and an inspiration to millions—with being a pawn of a ‘Non-Profit Industrial Complex’ seeking to hijack the movement to usher in the next stage of global capitalism, dubbed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Also included here is Thunberg’s response to her critics.

Bookshelf

Arundhati Roy: ‘We’re lurching into an unknown future, in a blitzkrieg of idiocy’

“And now, irony of ironies, a consensus is building that climate change is the world’s single largest security challenge. Increasingly the vocabulary around it is being militarized. And no doubt very soon its victims will become the ‘enemies’ in the new war without end.” (From Arundhati Roy’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture for PEN-America)

CLIMATE CHANGE

Cleaning up India’s air pollution — damned if we do, damned if we don’t?

Chirag Dhara writes: There is no disputing how urgently India – and the rest of the world – need to clean up its air. Unfortunately, therein lies a cruel twist. A rapid decontaminating of the air of aerosol pollution –assuming it was possible– itself raises the prospect of serious health consequences. The reason: how aerosols interact with climate.

Conflict/Dispossession

NBC News

Daniel Ellsberg: The military-industrial complex is an existential threat to humanity

The growth of the military-industrial complex poses an existential threat to humanity. Daniel Ellsberg, peace activist and whistleblower best known for his expose dubbed the ‘Pentagon Papers’, discusses with Allen White the precise nature of the threat posed by the military-industrial complex— and what needs to be done about it. [Courtesy the Great Transition Initiative]

Education/Awareness

Truth-telling in a ‘Post-Truth’ Age: A tribute to Julian Assange and Wikileaks

A tribute to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, who faces the prospect of extradition and a jail sentence in the United States for publishing confidential official documents. Here, we present a 2006 essay by Assange outlining his vision, select Wikileaks releases of secret policies related to the environment, and Mediastan, a documentary film on Wikileaks.

Conflict/Dispossession

How the Narendra Modi government is diluting green clearance norms

From Down to Earth: It looks like the environmental clearance process is becoming a formality. The quality of assessment, compliance of clearance conditions and the involvement of local community through public hearings are being further weakened. The purpose is to ease the process of obtaining clearances for mega projects like Bharatmala Pariyojana and Sagar Mala.

ALTERNATIVES

Caretaking: A conversation

Wendell Berry and Helena Norberg-Hodge discuss human nature, experiential knowledge, technology, happiness, wildness, and local food systems — topics which they have always commented on, but which have taken on a new urgency. They offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.

ALTERNATIVES

Obituary: Jay Hanson, early populariser of the converging crises

Ron Patterson writes: Jay Hanson was the founder of multiple energy resources or peak oil lists from the 1990s, starting with the incredibly popular Dieoff website and Dieoff list which looked at peak oil, population numbers, and scarcity. He was probably more responsible for starting the whole Peak Oil Awareness Movement than any other person.

ALTERNATIVES

Rahul Gandhi’s cash transfer scheme could be a revenue neutral Carbon Tax

“Carbon tax” is a tax on fossil fuels to reduce their consumption. A revenue neutral carbon tax is “the fairest, most effective, most efficient single policy tool in the fight for a habitable climate,” says Charles Komanoff. The term “revenue neutral” simply means the tax revenue is returned back to the public in some form.

CLIMATE CHANGE

International Rebellion: UK’s Extinction Rebellion movement goes global

From The Ecologist: Extinction Rebellion, the activist group spearheading mass civil disobedience for climate action in the UK, has drawn people of all ages into their effort to draw attention to the unfolding climate emergency. Now, they are inspiring similar actions everywhere “from Auckland to Accra, Mexico City to Vancouver”, as the movement goes international.

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CLIMATE CHANGE

Richard Greeman: France’s Yellow Vests struggle to reinvent democracy

Many working-class Yellow Vests can’t help seeing environmentalists as bourgeois on bicycles wanting to be nice but unwilling to struggle directly against the establishment. So their call for unity is also, in part, a challenge to the environmental movement: “Join us in the struggle for social equality and be ready to fight the whole system.”

Conflict/Dispossession

Dhruv Rathee: Environment is the Modi government’s most under-reported disaster

The UPA government didn’t have a stellar record on environment, but what has happened in past five years is unprecedented. The biggest statistical evidence for this lies in the Environmental Performance Index, where India was ranked the fourth-worst country (177) in the world out of 180 last year. Five years ago, India was ranked 155th.

Economy

Thermodynamic Failure: Phase 2

“Most people aren’t paying attention. Most people have no idea what’s going on. Industrial civilization is already having serious health problems and heart palpitations. By 2020, industrial civilization’s going to suffer a massive stroke. By 2025, it will be in hospice. By 2030, it will be dead,” writes the anonymous author of Articulating The Future.

ALTERNATIVES

Elections 2019: People’s Manifesto for a Just, Equitable, and Sustainable India

We commit, and ask all political parties, people’s movements, civil society organisations, and other relevant groups to commit to an India that is just, equitable, and sustainable for today’s and coming generations. The above commitment (and related steps) is urgently required in the context of the multiple crises we are facing today. (Courtesy Vikalp Sangam)

ALTERNATIVES

Rahul Basu: What the National Mineral Policy 2019 does and doesn’t get right

The National Mineral Policy 2019 lays a foundation for the systematic implementation of intergenerational equity in India with reference to natural resources. However, the question is whether it will be implemented and implemented quickly. Will future generations see us as the generation that consumed the planet, or the generation that changed the course of history?

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