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. Basav Sen,
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.
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.
From The Wire: Is it too much to expect that a Forest Department respond appropriately to the character of a natural habitat in order to plant new species suitably? Why is it that some 170 years after we started training foresters, we still have a cadre that knows and cares so little about natural habitats?
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.
From The Guardian: With over 43% of India reeling under drought, hundreds of villages have been evacuated and homes abandoned after wells, handpumps ran dry in a 45C heatwave. Estimates suggest that in villages 250 miles from Mumbai, up to 90% of the population has fled, leaving the sick and elderly to fend for themselves.
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.
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.
By Dahr Jamail: Permafrost, or frozen soil in the Arctic is now thawing so fast that scientists are literally losing their measuring equipment. This is due to the fact that instead of there being just a few centimeters of thawing each year, now several meters of soil can become destabilized in a matter of days.
From Mongabay: Activists fear dilutions of the green laws and rules against the interests of forest dwellers and tribals would continue unabated. The union environment already has, on its table, an amendment in the Indian Forest Act 1927, revision of the national forest policy and the new set of rules for the environment clearance regime.
Paul Kingsnorth was once an ardent environmentalist. But as it began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement he once embraced. Here is Kingsnorth’s classic essay, full of grief and fury and passionate evocations of nature.
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.
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.
The Green New Deal seeks to generate growth and reduce emissions. The problem is that growth and emissions are profoundly correlated. The Green New Deal thus risks becoming a sort of Sisyphean reform, rolling the rock of emissions reductions up the hill each day only to have a growing, energy-hungry economy knock it back down.
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.
“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)
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
Thunberg, the face of school climate-strikes, writes, “Either we go on as a civilization, or we don’t”. But who said we must go on with this civilization? If we drop this idea, then the survival of the human species (not of the current Western civilization) is possible – with a different, yet to be fully described, kind of civilization.
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)
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?
Nupur Chowdhury writes: The ‘polluter pays principle’ is seen as an effective remedy to address environmental degradation. The PPP allows the polluter to evade punitive action by paying for environmental damage, the presumption being that the monies collected would then be used for restoring the environment. We’ve failed to understand that environmental damage is irreversible.
From Science Magazine: Cuba has become the latest country to enshrine the fight against climate change in its constitution. A team of Cuban experts has just finished drafting a $100 million proposal that the government plans to submit early this year to the Global Climate Fund, an international financing mechanism set up by the U.N.
Ted Kaczynski, known to the FBI as the Unabomber, sent parcel bombs from his shack to those he deemed responsible for the promotion of the technological society he despises. Is it possible to read someone like Kaczynski and be convinced by the case he makes, even as you reject what he did with the knowledge?
Rebecca Solnit writes: I want to say to all the climate strikers: thank you so much for being unreasonable. You may be told that what you are asking for is impossible. Don’t listen. Don’t stop. Don’t let your dreams shrink an inch. Don’t forget; this might be the year when you rewrite what is possible.
Given the scale of the problem, India’s response to climate migration has been woefully inadequate. Administrative lethargy or the lack of foresight and planning will only exacerbate the suffering and plight of climate migrants. This is particularly unjust to them, as they are least responsible for the mess we find ourselves in, writes Nandan Sharalaya
Artificial intelligence could erase many practical advantages of democracy, and erode the ideals of liberty and equality. It will further concentrate power among a small elite if we don’t take steps to stop it. “We’re facing not just a technological crisis but a philosophical crisis,” says the author of ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’.
From IndiaSpend.com: Fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India, according to an analysis of air quality in several cities around the world by IQAir Group. Gurugram, in Haryana, topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 g/m3 (micrograms/cubic metre), in 2018.