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NEWS UPDATE #193

HIGHLIGHTS: *Floods in Assam, Nagaland and U.P. *SC Stays construction in all states pending Solid Waste Management policy *Govt claims India restored 9.8 million hectares of degraded land since 2011 *NGT forms panel on potable groundwater *Thousands march across US to protest environment crisis *Scientists calculate ‘point of no return’ for dealing with climate change

Memory, fire and hope: Five lessons from Standing Rock

From Common Dreams: The forced eviction of the Standing Rock protestors is simply the latest chapter in a violent, 500-year-old history of colonisation against the First Nations. It’s also the latest chapter in the battle between an extractive capitalist model and the possibility of a post-capitalist world. For now, let’s remember this movement’s enduring lessons.

The magnificent seven: The rights defenders targeted by the Indian state

On August 28, 2018, some of India’s leading land and human rights defenders were arrested or had their homes raided on charges of conspiring to assassinate the PM Narendra Modi, among other things. Here, we present their profiles and some selected writings/talks, as well as a video dossier of the draconian UAPA law, courtesy TheWire.in

Memo to The New York Times: How not to talk about climate change

From Jacobin Magazine: The New York Times’ blockbuster story on climate change concludes that democracy and human nature are to blame for the climate crisis. They’re wrong. You cannot tell the story of climate change without telling the story of twentieth-century capitalism. This isn’t just a missed opportunity or a partial story—it’s the wrong story.

Kerala floods: Time for introspection and amends as water recedes

From Mongabay: It was the worst flooding in Kerala in nearly a century, with all 14 districts on red alert. With over 445 dead, a million still in relief camps, its impact will last for years. But the future can be more climate-resilient if grassroots communities realise start working for the conservation of fragile ecologies

NEWS UPDATE #192

HIGHLIGHTS: *Leading Indian activists arrested in multi-city raids *India to double emissions, but within Paris commitments *Goa may go Kerala way: Gadgil *Northeast losing canopy cover at alarming rate: study *UN-appointed scientists warn of capitalism’s imminent demise *Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record *Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence

Tribute: Eugene Odum – ‘Father of modern ecology’

In a meeting with his colleagues, Odum suggested that his ecology class be required of all new biology majors. His fellow scientists looked at him and laughed. Odum stormed out of the room but was not deterred. That night, he began writing a note that would ultimately become the foundation for the first ecology textbook.

The defenders: Nine activists defending the Earth from violent assault

Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of a natural world under ever more violent assault. A series of portraits of people who are risking their lives to defend the land and environment today, from India to South Africa. Also read: ‘Why 2017 Was the Deadliest Year for Environmental Activists’

Bookshelf: Caste and Nature: Dalits and Indian Environmental Politics

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.

The social ideology of the motorcar

“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.

NEWS UPDATE #191

HIGHLIGHTS: *Flood deathtoll climbs in Kerala, Karnataka and Himachal *Government comes out with standard conditions for environment clearances *India bans 18 pesticides *Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve enters UNESCO list *India lost one-third of its coastline from erosion *July 2018 was third-warmest such month on Earth *Monsanto ordered to pay $289m as jury rules weedkiller caused cancer

Tribute: Masanobu Fukuoka, the ‘one-straw revolutionary’ of agriculture

August 16th marks ten years since the passing of the legendary Japanese farmer and author Masanobu Fukuoka, who initiated the natural farming movement. Here’s a documentary on his life and work, along with notes by Larry Korn, Fukuoka’s American student and the translator of his book, ‘One Straw Revolution,’ considered the ‘bible’ of natural farming.

“Two” – A film fable by Satyajit Ray

In 1964, renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray was asked to create a short film for a TV-showcase by American oil company Esso. Asked to write and direct the film in English, Ray opted instead to make a film without words. The result is a poignant fable of modernity and ‘development’, which remains just as relevant today.

Modi govt is building the world’s tallest dam – in earthquake-prone Himalayas!

Pancheshwar Dam, kingpin of the river-linking project, will be the Himalayas’ largest reservoir. It’ll be located in one of india’s most seismically active areas, yet the project has been marred by shockingly poor environment appraisal. With little chances of it being economically viable, the project is nothing but a lucrative, contractor-friendly pipedream, writes Himanshu Thakkar.

How the wealthy are plotting to leave us behind: An inside account

Douglas Rushkoff writes: (The billionaires I recently met) were preparing for a digital future that transcends the human condition altogether while insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

NEWS UPDATE #190

HIGHLIGHTS: *Groundwater in 16 States found to be contaminated by uranium *How India’s environment ministry compromised thermal power plant norms *India’s pre-election changes to green laws draw criticism *India’s new flash-flood warning system could be life-saving *Climate change could push Earth into irreversible ‘hothouse’ state, says study *Global wind & solar capacity surpasses 1 Terawatt

How the Great Transition was made: A brief history dated 2050

“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.

What would a thriving rural space look like?

Shashank Kalra writes: We have a vivid vision of a thriving urban space; but what would a thriving rural space look like? This was one of the key questions I went with in this Gramya Manthan, a rural immersion-programme. Here, I shall bring up some of the subtler issues, which aren’t ‘rural issues’ but all-pervasive.

Science in the Anthropocene: The emerging field of Planetary Health

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.

How Andhra Pradesh built India’s first police state using Aadhaar and a Census

Gopal Sathe writes: The AP government now has access the intimate personal details of 43 million of the state’s 50 million residents: GPS coordinates of their homes, medicines they use, the food rations they eat, real-time feeds of thousands of security cameras, their castes and sub-castes, their religion, and of course — their Aadhaar numbers.

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