The Ganges and its tributaries are now subject to sewage pollution ‘half-a-million times over the recommended limit for bathing’ in places, not to mention unchecked runoff from heavy metals, fertilisers, carcinogens and the occasional corpse. ‘Where is this going?’ That’s the question at the heart of Victor Mallet’s book on the river, writes Laura Cole.
From Nature: In this in depth investigation of India’s feeble fight against consumerist waste, are robust statistics, compelling history and telling case studies. The authors, anthropologist Assa Doron and historian Robin Jeffrey, also throw the occasional philosophical curve ball, such as: “waste is in the eye of the beholder”. The result is both beguiling and disturbing.
Russian geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945), founder of biogeochemistry, also laid the foundations for the ‘Gaia hypothesis’ with his idea that life is a geological force that can change Earth’s landforms, climate, even the contents of its atmosphere. “What Darwin did for life through time, Vernadsky did for life through space on a geological scale”.
Adrian Ayres Fisher writes: Part of the relatively new ‘cli fi’ genre, Kim Stanley Robinson‘s novel ‘Green Earth’, is full of climate change related, extreme weather disasters. It could have been yet another nightmarish fantasy trip. Instead, with underpinnings of Shakespearean comedy, its tone and structure convey hopefulness and there are moments of true joy.
In this informative book, the author, Dr. Ashok Kundapur, who has had the privilege of contributing scholarly articles to Enclyclopedia of Life Support System (EOLSS) of UNESCO and Wikia of Solar Cooker International, has distilled his experience of 35 years, to cover over 260 designs of solar cookers, in full color, designed around the World.
A remarkable, first-ever collection of essays on India’s future, by a diverse set of authors – activists, researchers, media practitioners – those who have influenced policies and those working at the grassroots. It presents scenarios of an India that is politically and socially egalitarian, radically democratic, ecologically sustainable and economically equitable, and socio-culturally diverse and harmonious.
Some of the most celebrated scientific ideas and books of the 20th century may not be useful for us in this century, while lesser-known works of the past acquire new relevance. Here, then, is a selection of such works, along with an invitation for readers to critique and contribute their own suggestions to this list.
Ursula K. Le Guin, legendary American sci-fi author and creator of the classic ‘Earthsea’ series, died on January 22. She was 88. In this tribute, we present a video of her talk on “Transformation Without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet”, as well as her article on ‘the future of the Left’.
Peter Wohlleben, author of the best-selling ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, explores the emotions and intelligence of animals in his new book. New scientific discoveries in this field have big moral implications, he says. A review and an excerpt, plus the video of an eye-opening talk by animal ethologist Jonathan Balcombe on the inner life of animals.
Here’s how you make a dystopia: Convince people that when disaster strikes, their neighbors are their enemies, not mutual saviors and responsibilities. The belief that when the lights go out, your neighbors will come over with a shotgun isn’t just a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a weaponized narrative. It is what turns mere crises into catastrophes.
‘Jholawala’ is a derogatory term that India’s urban elites use to dismiss the arguments of social activists without having to contend with them. Jean Drèze is a prime example of a jholawala who is also a first-rate economist whose arguments cannot be dismissed easily. A condensed version of the thought-provoking introduction to his new book.
Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, is one of the world’s leading energy experts and a key figure behind China’s ongoing transition to renewable energy. His appointment as a strategic advisor to NITI Aayog suggests that India’s top development policy agency maybe finally be rethinking the country’s present fossil fuel-based energy path.
Radhika Desai writes: Read what Marx says. Pay no attention to those who tell you Capital is hard: they are merely saying ‘read my book first’. You have limited time: spend it on reading Capital. Remember, Capital was serialised in a workers’ paper. You are today’s workers and Capital is your invitation card to history.
Sunita Narain, India’s best-known environmentalist, says the environment challenges we confront-like Delhi’s extreme air pollution-are progenies of “a conspiracy of silence”. “It is a conspiracy because you don’t want the people to know (the harmful effects of environmental pollution),” says Narain, whose new book “Conflicts of Interest” gives a personal account of her green battles.
Joanna Macy, an eco-philosopher and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology, coined the phrase “The Great Turning” to describe “the essential adventure of our time”: the shift from what she calls the “industrial growth society” that is consuming the planet to a life-sustaining civilization. Here’s Macy’s interview with Truthout.org’s Dahr Jamail.
Sulak Sivaraksa, the 85-year-old Thai Buddhist monk, thinker and peace activist, is currently facing the prospect of a fifteen-year jail sentence, for criticising his country’s royal family and military junta. Here, he speaks on the global economy’s built-in inequities and biases. Also included is ‘Heavenly Messengers,’ an excerpt from his book, ‘The Wisdom of Sustainability.’
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.
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.
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.
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.