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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.

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.

Felix Padel: Adivasi economics may be the only hope for India’s future

India’s Tribal communities are under extreme pressure, right from big dams and mines to violent insurgencies and militarisation engulfing their lands. In 25 years, will these communities cease to exist? Or, will they represent thriving, revitalised models of egalitarian sustainability that the rest of the world has come to recognise and is learning from? Felix

Sustainable consumption, sustainability in the value chain and hawkers

There is a difference between an apple sold on a bandi and in a supermarket. It can happen that the price in the supermarket is lower, but it’s not difficult to understand that the ‘value’ added to it in a super market is more. Thus, the lesser the value added, the more sustainable it is.

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.

How do you ‘degrow’ an economy, without causing chaos?

Jonathan Rutherford writes: Reducing societal consumption –degrowing the economy– need not necessarily result in chaotic economic breakdown. This is indeed an inevitable outcome within our present economic system, but possibly not others. What then would be required to contract the economy, in an orderly and fair way? A possible answer, from the ‘Simpler Way’ perspective.

Vanishing Borneo: Saving one of the world’s last great places

From Yale Environment 360: Borneo is ground zero for oil palm devastation. The most ancient and species-rich forest on earth, it has also had highest deforestation rate on the planet, and in recorded history. Consumers of the countless products made with palm oil, from toothpaste to chocolate bars, now hold the key to protecting it.

Study: What 10 years of smartphone use means for the planet

We’re all on track to use at least 29 phones in our lifetimes. This rapid turnover of devices leads to record profits for smartphone manufacturers year after year. It also leads to many damaging impacts on people and our planet. Greenpeace USA’s new report, ‘From Smart to Senseless’, explores the high cost of smartphone use.

How come Bangalore doesn’t give an inkling of the severe drought in its backyard?

Devinder Sharma writes: The development process is so designed that cities have been made drought proof over the years… Life in the mega city does not even provide an inkling of a severe drought prevailing everywhere in the state, where as many as 139 of the 176 taluks have been declared drought hit this year.

Sunita Narain: The future is in our hands

We must rethink the question of states, market and society. We have dismembered the state; grown the market and believed that we’ve empowered society. Slowly, the circle closed— state, market and aspiring, consuming society merged. They became one. Anyone outside this circle stopped getting counted. This cannot work. This is our future’s most important agenda.

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