Over more than 40 years, Vaclav Smil has grown in influence, and is now seen as one of the world’s foremost thinkers and a master of statistical analysis. Bill Gates says he waits for new Smil books the way others wait for the next Star Wars movie. Smil’s latest is Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities.
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.
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.
In Richard Louv’s words: “Glenn Albrecht is among the most important eco-philosophers today. He is also a map-maker: he names the roads ahead, the dead-ends, the detours, and potential destinations. And, unlike so many scientists, he does so with a new language of emotions―those now emerging from the tragedy and the possibility of the Earth.”
Literature has always conditioned our philosophical understanding of nature. Likewise, ecology as a way of seeing and reading the world has irrevocably changed the study of literature itself. We must examine literary/cultural production in relation to questions of environmental impact, ecological thinking and the implications of revising conventional ways of articulating human with extra-human nature.
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.
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.
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.
“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)
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’.
Native American scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer tells the story of mosses, the first plants to develop the ability to live on land. Unlike other plants they can survive long periods of drought in a condition of dessication – dry, brittle, brown – then spring back to life as soon as a drop of rain hits
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.
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.
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.”
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.
From The Millions: When human leaders fail us as role models, we should look to animals, says Sy Montgomery. “I can tell you that teachers are all around to help you: with four legs or two or even eight. All you have to do is recognize them as teachers and be ready to hear their truths.”
Most people have passed through some kind of initiation; a crisis that defies what you knew and what you were. Societies can also pass through a similar initiation. That is what climate change poses to the present global civilization. A key element of this transformation is from a geomechanical worldview to a Living Planet worldview.
Rarely do Indian environmental discourses examine nature through the lens of caste. Mukul Sharma shows how the two phenomena are intimately connected, and compares Dalit meanings of environment to Neo-brahminism and mainstream environmental thought. Here, he argues that the Ambedkarite vision is relevant for environmental sustainability, and it is Indian environmentalists who have marginalised Ambedkar.
From The Guardian: White’s Natural History, a founding classic of its genre, is deemed the fourth most-published book in the English language, after the Bible, Shakespeare and Bunyan, and has certainly been in print since first publication, while the benign White himself is now recognised equally as a great stylist and pioneer ecologist. A tribute.
“These machines shape the way we view reality. We’re not just merging with machines, but with the companies that run these machines—who run these machines for profit. And here’s the existential threat… these technologies will change what it means to be human. Once we take this leap, it will be very hard to reverse course.”