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Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg: The sobering tale of Greenpeace’s Arctic 30

On 18 September 2013, 30 Greenpeace activists who attempted attempted to scale a drilling platform to protest against Arctic oil production, were arrested by the Russian authorities, and their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, seized. Here’s an account of the ‘Arctic 30’s ordeal in a Russian jail, which raises questions about the future of the environmental movement.

Paani Foundation is creating a new paradigm for fighting drought

Moin Qazi writes: The Indian film celebrity Aamir Khan is shepherding a very revolutionary campaign–making Maharashtra drought-free in five years. Khan’s Paani Foundation is galvanising the rural population to go back to fundamental lessons of water management taught by their ancestors. Many Maharashtra villages are seeing water in their parched lands after consecutive dry years.

India’s big dam mania brings achche din to its corrupt dam lobby

Himanshu Thakkar writes: Can we expect any improvement in state of our water resources under the new minister Shri Nitin Gadkari? It was interesting that after taking over the portfolio from Uma Bharti, Gadkari’s first stop was Maharashtra, to offer the Chief Minister Rs 55 000 crores for same corruption-ridden irrigation projects in three years.

Exposé: How big business got Brazil hooked on junk food

As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé and PepsiCo have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India. A detailed expose of the politics and economics of junk food, by The New York Times.

The insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans. It’s a catastrophe

From The Guardian: Insects are multitudinous beyond our imagining, and have triumphed for hundreds of millions of years, in every habitat. This makes all the more alarming the great truth now dawning upon us: insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them.

An urban Adivasi’s perspective on ‘Newton’, India’s Oscar entry

Nolina Minz writes: Critics have described ‘Newton’ as ‘brilliant, subversive and one of the finest political satires we have seen in recent years.’ But watching Newton left me deeply annoyed; as an urban adivasi I felt that the quintessential element of the movie was the unfailing poverty, backwardness, and marginality of adivasi communities in India.

Reality check: Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables

Barry Saxifrage writes: What determines our climate fate is how much climate-polluting fossil fuels we burn. Renewables are great, but only if they actually replace oil, gas, or coal. Sadly, rising renewables haven’t stopped our fossil fuel burn. Instead, we keep expanding both renewables and fossil fuels at the same time, in a new business-as-usual.

Being human, in a more-than-human world

David Abram writes: I am dazzled, yes, by the creativity of the human mind, but I’m also struck dumb by the ability of various aspen groves to maintain and replenish themselves, through their common root system, for eighty thousand years and more. Are we humans unique? Sure we are. But then, so is everyone else around here.

Manoj Bhargava’s simple inventions could be a game changer for Indian villages

Billions in Change, the brainchild of Indian-American entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava, shows how simple but life-changing inventions provide clean water, electricity, and improve rural lives. The innovations include a RainMaker device that can turn dirty water clean, a low-cost, portable solar-based power generator and a ‘cost-free fertilizer’ that is made by gathering whatever is laying around.

Who feeds us? The Peasant Food Web vs. the Industrial Food Chain

Industrial farming, which gets all the attention (and most of the land), accounts for more than 80% of fossil fuel emissions and uses over 70% of the water supply in agriculture, actually produces only about 30% of the world’s food. It’s the diverse network of small-scale producers-the ‘Peasant Food Web’-that feeds 70% of the world.

Listen, the revolution blooms in silence

From Faridabad Majdoor Samachar: “On the train, a person was calling out loudly: From tomorrow, all over India, everyone’s salary will be 18,000 rupees. Equal. No one will be thief, and no one king. Long live the government.” A timely and evocative missive from a monthly workers’ newspaper distributed widely in the industrial belt around Delhi.

Blade Runner 2049 gets it wrong: Technology cannot defeat nature and still exist

James Kunstler writes: I watched Blade Runner 2049, the latest from Hollywood’s dream-shop. It was an excellent illustration of the over-investments in technology with diminishing returns that are dragging us into collapse and of the attendant techno-narcissism that afflicts the supposedly thinking class in this society, who absolutely don’t get what this collapse is about.

“Hitler used it in gas chambers; We’re using it in the open fields”

From The Citizen: “Hitler used organophosphate gases to execute thousands in his gas chambers, we are now using the same to kill our farmers in the open fields,” said Kishor Tiwari on the recent deaths of more than 40 farmers from pesticide poisoning in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal. Tiwari heads a government task force for farmers’ welfare.

Stark evidence: A warming earth is sparking more and bigger wildfires

From Yale Environment 360: The wildfires presently raging in California are no exception. The increase in forest fires, seen from North America to Brazil, from the Mediterranean to Siberia, is directly linked to climate change, scientists say. And as the world continues to warm, there will be greater risk for fires on nearly every continent.

Devinder Sharma: The match is fixed against Indian farmers

If you think farmers have suffered unknowingly, you are mistaken. It’s in fact part of a global design.  For GDP to grow, the prescription is to reduce the dependency of a large proportion of the population on agriculture. The entire effort is to create conditions that force people to abandon farming and migrate to cities.

Bookshelf: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis by George Monbiot

George Monbiot‘s powerful new book looks at how democracy and economic life can be radically organised from the bottom up. He argues against the “society-crushing system of neoliberalism”, and for a political agenda “that isn’t destined to destroy the living planet”, power given back to people so that wealth isn’t continually distributed to the rich.

How ‘Silent Spring’ ignited the modern environmental movement

As much as any book can, Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” changed the world, by describing it. An immediate best-seller, this classic book launched the modern environmental movement, which, in turn, led to the creation of the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a host of green laws. On the 55th year of its publication, a tribute.

In drought-prone Maharashtra, a farmer leaves his entire crop for birds

From The Better India: Ashok Sonule of Kolhapur has left his harvest-ready jowar crop remain on his land for birds to feed on. His logic is simple. “Birds and animals have suffered a lot this year, with lakes drying up and crops wilting. There are few fields in this area the birds can call home.”

40 farmers dead, 2000 hospitalised: Task force chief calls it ‘pesticide genocide’

From The Indian Express: According to Kishor Tiwari, chief of a Maharashtra government task force for the welfare of farmers,  more than 40 farmers had died and at least 2,000 more hospitalised from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha and Marathwada. He has termed the deaths of farmers from pesticide inhalation as “genocide committed by the state”. 

Amitav Ghosh: Why modern art is unable to deal with the big issues of our times

From LA Times Review of Books: If global warming is the most pressing planetary problem, why do we see so few references to it in contemporary novels, apart from post-apocalyptic science fiction? Amitav Ghosh believes the inward turn of modern art has cut it off from nature, and that we desperately need a new approach.

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