Humanity is facing the terminal crisis of an outdated worldview. From a long-term perspective, as a relatively young species on this planet we are collectively undergoing a maturation process which requires us to redefine how we understand our relationship to the rest of life on Earth— facing the choices of either collapse or profound transformation.
Researching public perceptions of the future, I’m not aware of any progress indicators that reflect the real depth of people’s concern. The current wave of global political unrest and protest is commonly attributed to growing inequality, corruption, austerity, thwarted expectations and climate change. But the real reasons also go deeper, challenging the entire narrative of modernisation itself.
Ted Trainer writes: The prize has gone to three people studying how the poor can derive more benefit from existing “development” practices. It sees no reason to question the existing market and growth-driven economy and its derivative, development theory. It doesn’t threaten the massively unjust and environmentally destructive global systems that keep billions in poverty.
Massive protests have been roiling through Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, Sudan, the UK, and Zimbabwe—and that’s only since September. As distinct as the protests seem, the uprisings rocking scores of countries all share a common theme, argues Ben Ehrenreich.
Big Agri, Big Pharma, Big Tech, Big Food, Big Banking, Big Oil and Big Government aren’t there to make our lives better. They’re there to control us and make as much money as possible; and they’ll run you over if you’re in their way. Daisy Luther on how to fight back and starve the Beast.
Thanks to the capitalist propaganda machine, we’ve forgotten the difference between ‘conscious’ and ‘compulsive’ consumption. Frugality, which once used to be the essence of responsible living has been labelled as ‘shame’. Though rarely discussed, this was the beginning–and now the core–of the climate crisis. And it has begun to control all aspects of our lives.
Four million people, thousands of communes, a non-hierarchical social structure based on gender equality and a cooperative economy based on ecological principles. So why is the world silent when the greatest contemporary alternative political-economic experiment—achieved against impossible odds—is thrown under the bus? Here’s a closer look at Rojava as Turkey invades the Kurdish autonomous zone.
Sanjay Reddy writes: The administration of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – which Nobel prize winners Duflot and Banerjee helped pioneer – has suffered from more than a whiff of neocolonial attitudes. Arguably, all of the difficulties of RCTs stem from a single source: a failure to recognize the full personhood of those who are affected by interventions.
Over more than 40 years, Vaclav Smil has grown in influence, and is now seen as one of the world’s foremost thinkers and a master of statistical analysis. Bill Gates says he waits for new Smil books the way others wait for the next Star Wars movie. Smil’s latest is Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities.
The fact that the language of localism is being increasingly co-opted by authoritarians around the world is itself a sign of localism’s appeal. Left uprooted and adrift by the globalized economy, people are desperate for a sense of connection: to one another, to the living world, to a place and culture that’s familiar to them.
Influential natural farming advocate Subhash Palekar recently approved the use of Genetically Modified crops in his well-known “Zero Budget Natural Farming-ZBNF” method. In an equally startling interview, he described organic farming as “worse than the atom bomb.” Here, two veteran practitioners respond to Palekar, while reviewing the history of the Organic/Natural Farming movement in India.
Kate Aronoff writes: Until now, European far-right parties have tended to question climate science as another example of cosmopolitan groupthink, if they mentioned it at all. But some have begun to embrace the fact that climate is on European voters’ minds. France’s National Rally recently unveiled a climate policy platform just before the European election.
From BBC: “The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Climate Institute. The sense is that the end of next year is the last chance saloon for climate change.
From Trophic Tales: The focus on the welfare of individual domesticated animals might be an extension of the modernist tendency to simplify and discriminate. The morality of living, eating, and dying is more complex than two-word slogans can prescribe. If we care about animals —wild or domesticated— we’ve to think in terms of entire ecosystems.
David R. Montgomery writes: Conventional wisdom says that fertile soil is not renewable. That’s not really true. Fertility can be improved quickly through cover cropping and returning organic matter to the land. Soil-building is about getting the biology, mineral availability, and organic-matter balance right, rolling with the wheel of life instead of pushing against it.
Paul Kingsnorth was once an ardent environmentalist. But as it began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement he once embraced. Here is Kingsnorth’s classic essay, full of grief and fury and passionate evocations of nature.
To keep this kind of growth going, we need to tap more resources, which is beyond the Earth’s capacity. Till now the growth was possible because we thought resources are abundant. But today we know that we will have to experience a serious crisis in the next half century, depending upon how we use resources.
A tribute to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, who faces the prospect of extradition and a jail sentence in the United States for publishing confidential official documents. Here, we present a 2006 essay by Assange outlining his vision, select Wikileaks releases of secret policies related to the environment, and Mediastan, a documentary film on Wikileaks.
Wendell Berry and Helena Norberg-Hodge discuss human nature, experiential knowledge, technology, happiness, wildness, and local food systems — topics which they have always commented on, but which have taken on a new urgency. They offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.
From The Ecologist: Extinction Rebellion, the activist group spearheading mass civil disobedience for climate action in the UK, has drawn people of all ages into their effort to draw attention to the unfolding climate emergency. Now, they are inspiring similar actions everywhere “from Auckland to Accra, Mexico City to Vancouver”, as the movement goes international.