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The grave environmental cost of ‘ease of doing business’

India has just climbed an unprecedented 30 spots on the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking, which’s being celebrated as a historic moment by the mainstream media. This Down to Earth report shows how this ‘achievement’ has come at a possibly permanent damage to the environment, thanks to a steady dilution of regulatory norms.

Noam Chomsky: Indigenous people are our only hope for survival

According to the legendary scholar Noam Chomsky, the world is “facing potential environmental catastrophe and not in the distant future,” and the only communities standing between humankind and catastrophe is the world’s Indigenous people. Here we present a selection of articles & essays on indigenous people and their fight to defend nature from ‘civilised’ humans.

How coal is choking Goa: An investigation by The Indian Express

Jindal, Adani, Vedanta are the Big Three who are transporting most of the millions of tonnes of coal unloaded at Goa’s Mormugao Port every year. In a painstaking investigation carried out over four months, Smitha Nair of The Indian Express tracked three key coal routes to find a trail of health hazards and environmental damage.

A global police state? Digital capitalism and the rise of authoritarian leaders

William Robinson highlights some revealing statistics to expose what is really behind the rapid digitalization of global capitalism, the rise of authoritarian leaders and the creeping spread of the global police state. These, he says, are nothing but an insecure transnational capitalist elite’s attempt to insure themselves against rising inequality and a looming economic crisis.

NEWS UPDATE #162

The top 250 listed companies in the world account for a third of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, a new study shows. The report comes a day after the World Meteorological Organization said the concentration of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide touched a record high in 2016. Coal India, Gazprom and Exxon Mobil topped the list.

Kadwi Hawa: A harsh wind is blowing

Set in a village in Bundelkhand, which hasn’t seen rain in the last 15 years, the soon-to-be-released Hindi film Kadvi Hawa is a stark story about how climate change affects us all. Instead of capturing the socio-economic impact, director Nila Madhab Panda says, he is interested in looking at the emotional impact of climate change.

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.

Global energy transition: Here’s why it’s India’s opportunity to leapfrog

As India like the rest of the world shifts from fossil fuels to renewables, India should also launch a new initiative for this dramatic transition. One of the guiding principles for energy transition should be India’s civilizational value of “simple living and high thinking” and not to maximize gross national product as other countries do.

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.

NEWS UPDATE #161

India has topped the list of countries with pollution-related deaths in 2015, with 2.51 million people dying prematurely in the country that year from pollution, according to a new study published in the reputed medical journal, The Lancet. Pollution kills at least nine million people and costs trillions of dollars every year, the study found.

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.

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