“The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people”. So starts Andre Gorz’s justly famous 1973 essay which remains as relevant today as ever.
“The core issues would’ve gone on being ignored until the system broke down irretrievably. It should’ve been obvious that there had to be a shift to radical localism and simpler ways, but as long as rich world supermarket shelves remained well-stocked no one would take calls for downshifting seriously.” A futuristic vision from Ted Trainer.
It’s no longer possible to separate the health of the planet from the health of its people. Disease patterns are changing as the climate does, and human health is at risk from loss of biodiversity, depleted water supplies, environmental toxins, and collapsing food systems. From this realisation has come a new research field: planetary health.
Climate science has consistently underestimated the effect of biology on climate. A geomechanical bias holds sway, seeing life as hostage to fluctuations in atmospheric components. In contrast, a living planet view holds that fundamentally it’s life itself that maintains the conditions for life, and the depletion of life is the biggest threat to the climate.
A startlingly pessimistic vision of India’s looming environmental and economic collapse by a senior business leader deserves our urgent attention and ought to revive the debate on development, democracy and policy choices. It’s also the closest we have got to a confession from an insider as to what has really been going in the country.
Kanak Mani Dixit, founding editor of ‘Himal Southasian’, writes: When ‘organic environmentalism’ rises from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable, South Asia and its peoples will be protected. At that point, no force will be able to stop activism across the frontiers and South Asia will begin to tackle pollution and dislocation as one.
Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.
From The New Left Review: If fidelity to GDP growth amounts to the religion of the modern world, then Herman Daly surely counts as a leading heretic. Benjamin Kunkel interviews the preeminent figure in ecological economics, and the author of perhaps the most fundamental and eloquently logical case against endless economic growth that’s yet produced.
J.C. Kumarappa was a stalwart of India’s freedom movement, Gandhian economic philosopher, pioneer in the development of village and cottage industries and advocate of a decentralised, localised economy of permanence and freedom. Yet, he remains practically unknown to the present generation of Indians. A tribute to Kumarappa by Pranjali Bandhu, editor of his collected writings.
Kerry Emanuel writes: There are strong cultural biases against discussion of ‘tail risk’ in climate science; particularly the accusation of “alarmism”. Does the dictum to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” not apply to climate scientists? If we omit discussion of tail risk, are we really telling the whole truth?
“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.”
From Nature: Science fiction is increasingly in the here and now. With technological change cranked up to warp speed and day-to-day life smacking of dystopia, where does science fiction go? Has mainstream fiction taken up the baton? Six prominent American science fiction writers reflect on what the genre has to offer about our common future.
Ratheesh Pisharody writes: The protest in Tuticorin and the police reaction to it is exactly what is expected in a society built on foundations of greed and injustice. Whose interest do you think the police is supposed to protect? Ours, the “middle class” of course. We need those cheap phones and air conditioners, don’t we?
José Mujica was the President of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015 and was a former urban guerrilla fighter who was imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. Often referred to as the “world’s most humble president”, he retired from office in 2015 with an approval rating of 70 percent.
Martin Parker writes: B-school market managerialism sells a utopia for the wealthy and powerful, one which students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining. But it comes at a very high cost: environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.
In this keynote address delivered at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Post Carbon Institute’s Nate Hagens discusses how our lives will be influenced by how we react to the coming era of harder to extract and more costly fossil fuels that will be combined with cleaner but less concentrated energy types.
It was supposed to be the site of western France’s biggest airport, but instead, it became the center of a utopian experiment. Hundreds of squatters –eco-warriors to some, green jihadis to others– now live in the ZAD, which resisted a eviction operation after a 2,500 strong police unit recently forced their way into the camp.
Ashish Kothari & Aseem Shrivastava write: The growing protests of farmers around the country-last month’s protests in Mumbai being the latest-is not just a claim for dignity. Even more portentously, it calls into question the paradigmatic rationality of the reigning development model. Alternatives do exist, practised and conceived of at hundreds of sites in India.
From The Conversation: Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world? As ways of knowing, both systems share important and fundamental attributes. There are also many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.
Kevin Anderson writes in The Conversation: Most political and economic pontificators, buttressed by naysayers and established elites, remain incapable of seeing beyond their familiar 20th century horizon. But the 21st century is already proving how the future is a different country –one that could yet be shaped by alternative interpretations of prosperity, sustainability and equity.