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.
Many working-class Yellow Vests can’t help seeing environmentalists as bourgeois on bicycles wanting to be nice but unwilling to struggle directly against the establishment. So their call for unity is also, in part, a challenge to the environmental movement: “Join us in the struggle for social equality and be ready to fight the whole system.”
We commit, and ask all political parties, people’s movements, civil society organisations, and other relevant groups to commit to an India that is just, equitable, and sustainable for today’s and coming generations. The above commitment (and related steps) is urgently required in the context of the multiple crises we are facing today. (Courtesy Vikalp Sangam)
The National Mineral Policy 2019 lays a foundation for the systematic implementation of intergenerational equity in India with reference to natural resources. However, the question is whether it will be implemented and implemented quickly. Will future generations see us as the generation that consumed the planet, or the generation that changed the course of history?
From Science Magazine: Cuba has become the latest country to enshrine the fight against climate change in its constitution. A team of Cuban experts has just finished drafting a $100 million proposal that the government plans to submit early this year to the Global Climate Fund, an international financing mechanism set up by the U.N.
Ted Kaczynski, known to the FBI as the Unabomber, sent parcel bombs from his shack to those he deemed responsible for the promotion of the technological society he despises. Is it possible to read someone like Kaczynski and be convinced by the case he makes, even as you reject what he did with the knowledge?
Over the years, ‘development’ has undergone multiple modifications, such as sustainable development, participatory development, development with gender equity, integrated rural development, and so forth. All these approaches stay within the conventional understanding of development: they don’t constitute a radical departure from the prevailing paradigm. What we need to do is get rid of ‘development’ itself
The crisis in democracy is much discussed these days, but almost entirely in political terms that ignore its deeper causes. It’s the continuing failure to have this deeper discussion that has led to the democratic crisis we have. In this sense, the mainstream news media can be considered ‘enemies of the people’, peddling ‘fake news’.
Many of these battles were fought not because people understood how these projects affected the environment but because they saw the loss of their land and livelihoods as the loss of security and dignity. As a woman adivasi farmer succinctly put it, “I wish to be a farmer, and not a housemaid in someone’s home.”