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55 ways to ‘starve the beast’

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.

Compulsive consumption: The malaise at the core of the climate crisis

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.

Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t realise that’

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.

Air Conditoning: The all-too costly feeding and care of a familiar beast

The task of explaining the wider issues associated with air conditioning is a daunting task as the weather gets warmer. In ‘Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)’, author Stan Cox shows how indoor climate control is colliding with an out-of-control outdoor climate.

We have drought-proofed our cities, and left farms and farmers to die

Devinder Sharma writes: This year, nearly 82% of Karnataka is reeling under drought. But in Bangalore, you won’t get even a hint of the terrible human suffering that continues to be inflicted year after year. Karnataka has suffered drought for 12 out of the past 18 years. But life in Bangalore has never been affected.

Can the economy grow forever?

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.

Why growth can’t be green

Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy: Many policymakers have responded to ecological breakdown by pushing for what has come to be called “green growth.” It sounds like an elegant solution to an otherwise catastrophic problem. There is just one hitch: New evidence suggests that green growth isn’t the panacea everyone hopes for. In fact, it’s not even possible.

Raj Patel: Capitalism made simple, or world history in 7 cheap things

Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. Award-winning writer and activist Raj Patel makes the case that in making these things cheap, modern commerce has governed, transformed and devastated the earth. Also included, an interview with Patel and co-author Jason Moore.

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.

We have invented a mountain of superflous needs, says ‘the world’s poorest president’

José Mujica was the President of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015 and was a former urban guerrilla fighter who was imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. Often referred to as the “world’s most humble president”, he retired from office in 2015 with an approval rating of 70 percent.

How Wal-Mart shapes the world: A warning for India

With $405 billion in sales last year, Wal-Mart is so big, it casts a global shadow across the lives of hundreds of millions of people, from California to China. David Moberg takes closer look at the controversial policies of the retail giant, which recently made a backdoor entry into India by acquiring e-commerce major Flipkart.

George Monbiot: Why ‘conscious consumption’ won’t save the world

Recent studies show that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not. Why? Because, environmental awareness is higher among wealthy people. It’s not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.

Exposé: How big business got Brazil hooked on junk food

As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé and PepsiCo have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India. A detailed expose of the politics and economics of junk food, by The New York Times.

The high cost of an easy-care, low-maintenance world

Kurt Cobb writes: We’ve created a world of low-maintenance objects which are low-maintenance merely because they are disposable… Philosophers bemoan our love of material things. But I believe that we modern, industrialized people don’t actually love material things. We wouldn’t treat material things the way we do if we truly loved and cared for them.

Limits to growth: policies to steer the economy away from disaster

From The Conversation: If the global economy grows by 3% till 2100, it will be 60 times larger than now.  The existing economy is already environmentally unsustainable, so we simply cannot“decouple” growth from environmental impact. This paper looks at policies that could facilitate a planned transition beyond growth–while considering the huge obstacles along the way.

Jason Hickel on BBC: Our addiction to economic growth is killing us

From BBC: A recent episode of Newsnight, BBC’s programme on ideas, had a surprising guest: Anthropologist Jason Hickel, who went on to make a case against the lethal addiction to economic growth and in its place proposed “planned de-growth”. Hickel is the author of The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions.

Light, bright or dark – what shade of green are you?

Kari McGregor writes: The green movement is no longer unified, if it ever really was. Bright Green, Lite Green, Bright Green and Dark Green tribes form around divergent worldviews, theories of change, an accepted range of tactics. Each tribe vies for attention to its message in a world of time-constrained news cycles and manufactured consumerism.

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals

Martin Lukacs writes in The Guardian: Capitalism thrives on people believing that being afflicted by the structural problems of an exploitative system –poverty, joblessness, poor health, lack of fulfillment –is a personal deficiency. Neoliberalism has taken this internalised self-blame and turbocharged it. So, you are now also responsible for bearing the burden of potential ecological collapse!

A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’

From The Guardian: A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some consider as serious as climate change. The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water.

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