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Presenting Narendra Modi, ‘Champion of the Earth’ (Disclaimer: This is not a joke)

To the shock of greens everywhere, Indian PM Modi, whose government has absolutely the worst environmental track record in the country’s history, has been declared a UN “Champion of the Earth”. However, coming from Erik Solheim, the UN environment chief facing a string of corruption allegations himself, this ‘honour’ may not be all that surprising.

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 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’

India is not ‘self-destructing’ – it’s being destroyed systematically

A startlingly pessimistic vision of India’s looming environmental and economic collapse by a senior business leader deserves our urgent attention and ought to revive the debate on development, democracy and policy choices. It’s also the closest we have got to a confession from an insider as to what has really been going in the country.

Shiv Visvanathan: An emerging wave of environmental politics

From Asian Age: Just as one wonders if one has reached a dead end, a new wave of environmental politics is emerging. The struggle against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi stands is a major symbol of these movements. The politics of environment and the battles for livelihood become a microcosm for the democratic struggles today.

Cross-border environmentalism and the future of South Asia

Kanak Mani Dixit, founding editor of ‘Himal Southasian’, writes: When ‘organic environmentalism’ rises from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable, South Asia and its peoples will be protected. At that point, no force will be able to stop activism across the frontiers and South Asia will begin to tackle pollution and dislocation as one.

Ecologies of scale: An interview with ecological economics guru Herman Daly

From The New Left Review: If fidelity to GDP growth amounts to the religion of the modern world, then Herman Daly surely counts as a leading heretic. Benjamin Kunkel interviews the preeminent figure in ecological economics, and the author of perhaps the most fundamental and eloquently logical case against endless economic growth that’s yet produced.

Modi and Adani: the old friends laying waste to India’s environment

From Climate Home News: Perhaps the most egregious fix, given the prominence of the issue and its consequences for Indians’ health, is the Modi government’s attempts to defer a December 2017 deadline for air pollution standards for thermal power plants. Without these, India’s hopes of reducing deadly air pollution from its electricity sector are nixed.

Polavaram: The pointless mega dam that will displace 4,00,000

Dam’ned, a documentary by filmmaker Saraswati Kavula, takes a closer look at how the Polavaram Dam project affects the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people, with dubious benefits expected. Despite increasing evidence of the destructive consequences of big dams across the world, why do our governments keep pushing for these mega projects, she asks.

Latin America signs landmark agreement to protect environmental activists

Brazil, Colombia and Mexico top the list of countries where the most people die defending a patch of earth, a mountain, or a river. The region where most environmental activists die annually is taking action with a new landmark agreement. The “Escazu Accord” is only the second regional agreement on environmentalists’ rights in the world.

Cracks in capitalism’s wall: Zapatistas and the struggle to decolonise science

From Toward Freedom: The second iteration of ConCiencias, a conference creating dialogue between the Zapatista’s and leading left wing scientists from throughout the world, took place at San Cristobal de Las Casas. The struggle to decolonize knowledge is part and parcel of the Zapatista’s broader project of resisting indigenous genocide, neoliberal capitalism, and political repression.

Pablo Solon: Vivir Bien – Old cosmovisions and new paradigms

From GreatTransition.org: The concept of Vivir Bien (or Buen Vivir), reflecting an indigenous cosmovision that emphasizes living in harmony with nature and one another, gained international attention as an alternative to the rampage of neoliberalism. As its popularity has grown, however, its meaning has been compromised, warns Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s former ambassador to the UN.

A zero sum game: The rail projects that spell doom for the Cauvery

The fracas over water sharing has obscured the fact that the Cauvery itself is facing a major threat: two railway lines to be constructed through Kodagu, the forested hill district where the river originates. A river’s fate – and those of the millions that depend on it – now hangs in balance, writes Chirag Chinnappa.

Petition: Safeguard our minerals, our children’s inheritance, from theft

From Change.org: India’s National Mineral Policy is open till Feb 9, 2018 for public comments. Minerals are a shared inheritance. The present mining system in India is leading to enormous losses of our mineral wealth, with only a few cronies benefiting. This must stop. Hence we are sending the representation to the Ministry of Mines.

Three interviews: Medha Patkar, Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres and Nonhle Mbuthuma

From The Transnational Institute: Women everywhere are leading struggles against corporate crimes and defending their communities and the dignity of all people, risking their lives in the process. To introduce our 2018 report on counter-power, we interviewed three women activists who have displayed incredible courage, determination and creativity to confront corporate power and state violence.

Does Iran’s water crisis play a role in its growing political turmoil?

Louis Proyect writes: As a rentier state, Iran’s economy was based on handouts rather than the production of manufactured goods. Cheap oil and subsidies made the massive use of pumps feasible just as was the case in neighbouring Syria. Groundwater extraction nearly quadrupled between the 1970s and 2000 while the number of wells rose five-fold.

The price of development: Gujarat’s dams are now drowning the state

Sneha Vakharia reports: Gujarat’s chronic floods, underreported and devastating, tell the story of Narendra Modi’s failure to deliver the state from water scarcity, and the onset of a new kind of problem, with crucial political implications. Since the state began its battle to control its water, increasingly and unforgivingly, the water has started fighting back.

Tata’s army: The green warriors who risk their lives to protect a Philippine paradise

From The Guardian: Palawan is the Philippines’ last ecological frontier, home to most of the nation’s remaining forests and renowned as a global biological hotspot. But its also a magnet for those seeking to plunder the island’s natural wealth. PNNI, a small group of civilian para-enforcers are taking the rainforest’s protection into their own hands.

How climate change and water woes drove ISIS recruiting in Iraq

From National Geographic: Already battered by decades of shoddy environmental policies, which had hobbled agriculture and impoverished its inhabitants, villages across rural Iraq and Syria were in no state to navigate the extra challenges of climate change. When ISIS came along, many of them quickly emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists’ foremost recruiting grounds.

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.

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