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Bookshelf: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis by George Monbiot

George Monbiot‘s powerful new book looks at how democracy and economic life can be radically organised from the bottom up. He argues against the “society-crushing system of neoliberalism”, and for a political agenda “that isn’t destined to destroy the living planet”, power given back to people so that wealth isn’t continually distributed to the rich.

How ‘Silent Spring’ ignited the modern environmental movement

As much as any book can, Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” changed the world, by describing it. An immediate best-seller, this classic book launched the modern environmental movement, which, in turn, led to the creation of the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a host of green laws. On the 55th year of its publication, a tribute.

Amitav Ghosh: Why modern art is unable to deal with the big issues of our times

From LA Times Review of Books: If global warming is the most pressing planetary problem, why do we see so few references to it in contemporary novels, apart from post-apocalyptic science fiction? Amitav Ghosh believes the inward turn of modern art has cut it off from nature, and that we desperately need a new approach.

The case against civilisation: Did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have it better?

From The New Yorker: Recent research shows a gap of 4000 years separating the “two key domestications,” of animals and cereals, from the first agrarian economies based on them. Our ancestors evidently took a good, hard look at the possibility of agriculture before deciding to adopt it; because the life they lived was remarkably abundant.

Nafeez Ahmed: Inside capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse

New scientific research is quietly rewriting the fundamentals of economics, showing decisively that the age of endlessly growing industrial capitalism, premised on abundant fossil fuel supplies, is over. The long-decline of capitalism-as-we-know-it, the new science conclusively shows, began some decades ago, and is on track to accelerate well before the end of the 21st century.

Bookshelf: Why dystopia is for losers

From International Socialist Review: Catastrophism explores the politics of apocalypse —on the left and right, in the environmental movement, and from capital and the state —and examines why the lens of catastrophe can distort our understanding of the dynamics at the heart of these numerous disasters —and fatally impede our ability to transform the world.

Bookshelf: Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature, by Jairam Ramesh

Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh tells IndiaSpend about his latest book ‘Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature’, why you can’t leave the environment to market forces, the current government’s policies, the erosion of the National Green Tribunal’s autonomy, the recent commercial approval for GM mustard and the poor implementation of environmental laws in the country.

Tribute: Murray Bookchin and the ecology of freedom

Here’s a thinker, who in the 1960s, declared climate change as a defining problem of the age. Who accused his fellow environmentalists of advocating mere “technical fixes” of capitalism, instead of addressing root causes. But today, his ideas are enjoying an unexpected revival. Damian White pays tribute to Murray Bookchin, who died on this day in 2006.

How govt policies are recklessly threatening India’s wildlife reserves

From Scroll.in: While the UPA government had been steadily weakening safeguards for India’s environment, forests and wildlife, the present NDA government is carrying forward this agenda in an even more aggressive and systematic manner. A new book by Prerna Singh Bindra details how ‘ease of doing business’ has become an excuse to ignore wildlife protection.

Bookshelf: Indica—A Deep Natural History Of The Indian Subcontinent

Amita Baviskar writes: Pranay Lal’s Indica, describes the first 4,600 million years of the subcontinent, comprising a cast of fascinating characters in a drama that begins with the Big Bang and closes with the arrival of Homo sapiens, present-day humans, in India some 70,000 years ago. But along with sparking appreciation, it also raises apprehensions.

The domestication of humankind

From Pragati: Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, governed by precursors of today’s states? Anirudh Kanisetti reviews James Scott’s lucid Against The Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, which provides surprising new evidence that refutes mainstream narratives of how civilization came into being.

What tames inequality? Violence and mayhem, says new book

From Chronicle.com: In his new book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Stanford University professor Walter Scheidel puts forth the following thesis: that historically, it took four kinds of violent ruptures  –mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state failure, and lethal pandemics– to reduce widespread inequality.

Where’s the energy for “the fourth industrial revolution”? Don’t ask.

Bart Hawkins Kreps writes: Will we have plenty of affordable energy to power communications among trillions of internet-connected sensors in the “Internet of Things”? Will our new fleet of self-driving cars have plenty of fuel to keep us moving en masse? The uncertainty of our long-term energy supply is not even mentioned in this book.

Finally, a breakthrough alternative to growth economics – the doughnut

George Monbiot writes: We cannot hope to address our predicament without a new worldview. We cannot use the models that caused our crises to solve them. We need to reframe the problem. This is what the most inspiring book published so far this year – Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth of  Oxford University -has done.

Capitalism and the destruction of life on earth: Six theses on saving the humans

As global capitalist economic growth accelerates planetary ecological collapse, Richard Smith argues that – impossible as it may seem at present – only the most radical solution -the overthrow of global capitalism, the construction of a mostly publicly-owned and mostly planned eco-socialist economy is the only alternative to the collapse of civilization and ecological suicide.

‘A reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene

From The Guardian: The chief reason that we’re waking up to our entanglement with the world we’ve been destroying, Timothy Morton says, is our encounter with the reality of hyperobjects –the term he coined to describe things such as ecosystems and black holes, which are “massively distributed in time and space” compared to individual humans.

Environmentalism used to be about defending the wild – not any more

From The Guardian: According to Paul Kingsnorth, environmentalism’s increasingly urban mindset means that instead of defending wild places we now spend our time arguing how to best domesticate these wild places –deserts, oceans, mountains– to generate the “green” energy needed to fuel things that, until recently, we couldn’t even imagine, let alone claim to need.

Bookshelf: Scarcity – Humanity’s Last Chapter?

Richard Reese writes: In ‘Scarcity: Humanity’s Final Chapter?’ Christopher O. Clugston analyses 89 key non-renewable resources that are essential to the existence of our industrial global society, and finds that 63 of them have peaked globally. His conclusion is that the only possible outcome for a society that is dependent on these resources, is collapse.

Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. Turns out, they were right

From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.

Project Drawdown: Mapping the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming

Amy Brady writes: Project Drawdown is a coalition of more than two hundred experts who have gathered 100 of the most viable ways to “draw down” carbon from the atmosphere. The result of their research is an immensely readable volume of solutions to climate change written for laypeople but informed by the world’s top experts.

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