Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.
Louis Proyect writes: As a rentier state, Iran’s economy was based on handouts rather than the production of manufactured goods. Cheap oil and subsidies made the massive use of pumps feasible just as was the case in neighbouring Syria. Groundwater extraction nearly quadrupled between the 1970s and 2000 while the number of wells rose five-fold.
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.
No doubt, capitalism has largely enabled the huge growth of human numbers in the last two hundred years. But human population growth has been occurring even in pre-capitalist eras. Parallel to this, also environmental destruction has been occurring and growing in these eras. It is not good to tell our readers only half the truth.
Displacing pastoralists, displacing smallholder farmers, arresting and charging them as terrorists if they protest–and the land is given away to foreign investors to grow what? Sugar and cotton. Imagine trucks full of food aid coming into Ethiopia, while trucks full of cotton and sugar are leaving the country. Hunger in Africa is a political problem.
From DNA: Under the leadership of PM Modi, governments pushed down the bar on environmental standards this year. At both Centre and state levels, there have been numerous reversals in environmental legislation. Today, there are 2357 applications with the Centre that were rejected approvals by state institutions or have nearly completed construction with no approvals.
From The Guardian: A series of fast-moving global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to avert the worst impacts of global warming. From those already at full steam, including renewable energy, to those just emerging, such as plant-based alternatives to meat, global trends show that greenhouse-gas emissions can be halted.
Sneha Vakharia reports: Gujarat’s chronic floods, underreported and devastating, tell the story of Narendra Modi’s failure to deliver the state from water scarcity, and the onset of a new kind of problem, with crucial political implications. Since the state began its battle to control its water, increasingly and unforgivingly, the water has started fighting back.
With the national energy policy about to be finalised, a recent lecture by Dr. Arvind Subramanian, India’s chief economic advisor, revealed the government’s thinking on the question of coal vis-a-vis renewable energy. This rejoinder by an energy expert flags crucial issues and suggests alternatives that are vastly more healthier for the country and the planet.
Richard Smith writes: The fundamental contradiction with capitalism is that maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, occasionally they coincide for a moment. But saving the world requires that the pursuit of profits be systematically subordinated to ecological concerns— and this no corporation can do.
Recently, a powerful feature by The Guardian reported on the US’ accelerating farmer suicide crisis, part of a global farmer suicide crisis, which most acutely manifests in India. Layton Ehmke, farmer-turned-journalist, writes on how there’s no way to make a living growing food in America, and how poverty and shame are driving some to suicide.
“This may take a while, but we’re going to win.” This is true about most political fights, but not for climate change. If we don’t win very quickly on climate change, then we will never win. That’s the core truth. It’s what makes climate change different from every other problem our political systems have faced.
From Entitle Blog: The “Warning to Humanity” signed by more than 15.000 scientists calls for action to save the planet proposing elitist environmentalism and missing the real target. The problem is not in the “barbarian hordes” and the “overpopulation bogeyman” but in the West’s “imperial mode of living” that is now expanding around the world.
Gail Tverberg writes: World leaders manipulate the world economy like a giant video game. The object is to keep it growing, but what do they do when the economy hits limits? They could take their foot off the throttle operated by low interest-rates and more debt. Or they could “take the wings off” the economy.
Whoever wins the Gujarat elections, its clear that as a political idea, the Gujarat development model is floundering, and may never be revived. It may have been a textbook case of what development should not be like, but given the powerful interests it serves, it’s still likely to haunt India’s policies for years to come.
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.
From The Guardian: Of all the most polluting nations –United States, China, Russia, Japan and the EU bloc– only India’s carbon emissions are rising: they rose almost 5% in 2016. India’s population and emissions are rising fast, and its ability to tackle poverty without massive fossil fuel use will decide the fate of the planet.
Recent studies show that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not. Why? Because, environmental awareness is higher among wealthy people. It’s not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.
Catrine Jarman writes: Recently, the Easter Islands have become the ultimate parable for humankind’s selfishness; a moral tale of the dangers of environmental destruction. But 60 years of archaeological research and recent genetic data shows that this dark tale of ecocide and Malthusian collapse has more to do with Western ignorance and prejudice than facts.
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.